Acetic acid (vinegar) as a new topical agent to treat traumatic and burn wound infections

Lead researchers: Fenella Halstead, Beryl Oppenheim

Aim: Can vinegar be effective in treating wound infection in burn wound patients

Background: Acetic acid (vinegar) has proven an effective antimicrobial in laboratory tests able to kill bacteria. It has been proven to prevent and kill biofilms at lower dilutions than have been used before. The team aim to perform a pilot study of two different dilutions of acetic acid in order to assess its tolerability and antimicrobial activity in colonised burn wound patients.

Method: The team will undertake a pilot clinical trial looking at 20 patients with small infected burns, who will be randomised to receive treatment with either 0.5 or 2% acetic acid in the form of dressings. During the trial swabs will be collected from wounds (to monitor for bacteria), patients will be asked whether the acetic acid dressing is painful (to monitor the tolerability), and the acetic acid contained in the dressings will be tested further to see how long it remains active for.

Once the trial is over the findings will be used to apply for funding to perform a larger randomised controlled trial and the team will work with collaborators to investigate alternative delivery methods (e.g. dressings and aerosols) for acetic acid.

Measure findings: For the pilot clinical trial the team will assess pain using a questionnaire involving a recognised pain measure. Swabs will be cultured and processed according to the Miles and Misra technique in order to provide bacterial counts per swab, and a measure of bacterial load.

The half-life of acetic acid will be measured by performing a ‘minimum inhibitory concentration’ laboratory test to determine the lowest concentration of acetic acid that prevents growth of bacteria.



Lead researchers