How do we manage clean wounds secondary to dermatological procedures?


Dermatology is a specialty in which we perform daily invasive processes (cryotherapy, laser, electrocoagulation, biopsies, extirpations), with the consequent production of wounds that are considered clean lesions. If we analyse our daily clinical practice, type of dressing changes until complete re-epithelialization is very variable. A wide variety of recommendations may be found, such as cleansing with soap and water, chlorhexidine or povidone iodine, antibiotic ointment, vaseline products, occlusive dressings…

The use of antiseptics or antibiotics to prevent wound infection seems to give us peace of mind (Nijhawan, 2013). Many professionals recommend the use of topical antibiotics since their presentation in ointment favours healing in a moist environment. However, the use of these products in a prophylactic way is not indicated after dermatological clean invasive procedures (Levender, 2012).

The incidence of complications in dermatological surgery is very low, varying in the studies from 0.07 to 4.25% (Rogers, 2010; Lee, 2015). The use of antiseptics in dressing changes after these clean procedures does not represent a benefit and may be harmful in the healing process due to their cytotoxicity (Cho, 1998). On the other hand, the indiscriminate use of topical antibiotics, in addition to not having shown a benefit in reducing infection rates, contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance and the onset of contact dermatitis (Gehrig, 2008), with an increase in healthcare costs.

Topical vaseline products would represent a safe treatment option as they promote healing in a moist environment without the aforementioned inconveniences.

Different clinical trials and a systematic review have been carried out with the aim of determining the efficacy of antibiotic ointments, in comparison with vaseline, in the prevention of infection of clean surgical wounds (Saco, 2014; Lee,2015). Among the results and conclusions of these studies, the recommendation of the use of vaseline, and not antibiotic ointments, stands out for  healing of clean wounds after dermatological procedures. The application of vaseline would not be necessary in cases where occlusive dressings are used, since no statistically significant differences have been found on the risk of infection and the final result between adding or not adding ointments (vaseline alone or with antibiotic) under them (Dixon, 2006). However, the use of occlusive dressings implies a higher expense than the use of vaseline ointment and an adhesive dressing with gauze, and no significant benefit has been demonstrated from their use in this type of wounds (Ubbink, 2008).


What do you recommend? What is your experience?



Cho CY1, Lo JS. Dressing the part. Dermatol Clin. 1998 Jan;16(1):25-47.

Dixon AJ, Dixon MP, Dixon JB. Randomized clinical trial of the effect of applying ointment to surgical wounds before occlusive dressing. Br J Surg 2006;93:937-943.

Gehrig KA, Warshaw EM. Allergic contact dermatitis to topical antibiotics: Epidemiology, responsible allergens, and management. J Am AcadDermatol 2008;58:1-21.

Lee DH, Kim DY, Yoon SY, Park HS, Yoon HS, Cho S. Retrospective Clinical Trial of Fusidic Acid versus Petrolatum in the Postprocedure Care of Clean Dermatologic Procedures. Ann Dermatol. 2015 Feb;27(1):15-20.

Levender MM, Davis SA, Kwatra SG, Williford PM, Feldman SR. Use of topical antibiotics as prophylaxis in clean dermatologic procedures. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Mar; 66(3):445-51. Epub 2011 Aug 6.

Nijhawan RI, Smith LA, Mariwalla K. Mohs surgeons’ use of topical emollients in postoperative wound care. Dermatol Surg. 2013 Aug;39(8):1260-3.

Rogers HD, Desciak EB, Marcus RP, Wang S, MacKay- Wiggan J, Eliezri YD. Prospective study of wound infections in Mohs micrographic surgery using clean surgical technique in the absence of prophylactic antibiotics. J Am Acad Dermatol 2010;63:842-851

Saco M, Howe N, Nathoo R, Cherpelis B. Topical antibiotic prophylaxis for prevention of surgical wound infections from dermatologic procedures: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Dermatolog Treat. 2014 Apr 8.

Ubbink DT, Vermeulen H, Goossens A, Kelner RB, Schreuder SM, Lubbers MJ. Occlusive vs gauze dressings for local wound care in surgical patients: a randomized clinical trial. Arch Surg. 2008 Oct;143(10):950-5






Also available in: Español (Spanish)



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here