Colloidal silver as an antimicrobial agent: fact or fiction?

J Wound Care. 2004 Apr;13(4):154-5. doi: 10.12968/jowc.2004.13.4.26606.


Objective: Colloidal silver preparations are marketed on the internet as omnipotent antimicrobial agents, but scientific support for these claims is lacking. This study reports the results of in vitro tests of colloidal silver's antimicrobial activity against several pathogenic or non-pathogenic microorganisms.

Method: Three samples of colloidal silver were tested: one available commercially on the internet (silver concentration of 22 ppm) and two samples (concentrations of 403 and 413 ppm) which were prepared in our laboratory using standard chemical methods.

Results: In an agar-well diffusion assay none of the three colloidal silver solutions had any effect on the growth of the test organisms. All tested bacterial strains were sensitive to ciprofloxacin. Colloidal silver 22 ppm showed no bactericidal activity in phenol coefficient tests.

Conclusion: As the tested colloidal silver solutions did not show any antimicrobial effect in vitro on the microorganisms, claims of colloidal silver's antimicrobial potency are misleading and there is no place for it as an antiseptic.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Aspergillus niger / drug effects
  • Colloids / pharmacology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects
  • Silver Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Colloids
  • Silver Compounds