The protective effect of treating the skin of newborn infants with powders containing 1% chlorhexidine or 0.33% hexachlorophane was compared. Each was equally effective in preventing colonisation and infection by Staphylococcus aureus. In contrast, the skin became profusely colonised by coagulase-negative staphylococci, irrespective of the powder used. Venous blood concentrations of chlorhexidine were low or undetectable in the few infants whose blood was analysed.
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