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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Use of 2% 2-phenoxyethanol and 0.1% octenidine as antiseptic in premature newborn infants of 23-26 weeks gestation.

In preterm newborn infants, topical iodine-containing antiseptics disturb thyroid hormone regulation while alcohol-based disinfectants may cause local burns. We therefore investigated the use of an aqueous solution containing 0.1% octenidine and 2% 2-phenoxyethanol for skin disinfection during the first seven days of life in premature newborns with a gestational age <27 weeks who were consecutively admitted to our level III neonatal intensive care unit between November 1, 2000 and December 31, 2001 (N=24). In boys. (N=13) the renal excretion of absorbed 2-phenoxyethanol and its metabolite 2-phenoxyacetic acid was quantitated by high-pressure liquid chromatography. In the most immature newborn (gestational age 23 6/7 weeks), a transient erythematous reaction was observed following application of the octenidine/phenoxyethanol solution prior to umbilical vessel catheterization. No other local reactions were observed. The urinary concentration of 2-phenoxyethanol was <2 ppm in all samples, while urinary 2-phenoxyacetic acid concentrations reached 5-95 ppm (median 24 ppm). One infant had a culture-proven septicaemia (Bacillus species) during the first seven days of life. We conclude that, in contrast to alcohol-based antiseptics, an aqueous solution of 0.1% octenidine and 2-phenoxyethanol does not cause major skin damage in premature newborn infants <27 weeks' gestation. 2-Phenoxyethanol is readily absorbed by the newborn's skin but apparently undergoes extensive oxidative metabolization to 2-phenoxyacetic acid.[1]


  1. Use of 2% 2-phenoxyethanol and 0.1% octenidine as antiseptic in premature newborn infants of 23-26 weeks gestation. Bührer, C., Bahr, S., Siebert, J., Wettstein, R., Geffers, C., Obladen, M. J. Hosp. Infect. (2002) [Pubmed]
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