Quality control in chronic wound management: the role of local povidone-iodine (Betadine) therapy

Dermatology. 2006:212 Suppl 1:82-7. doi: 10.1159/000089204.


Background: The treatment of venous leg ulcers is often inadequate, because of incorrect diagnosis, overuse of systemic antibiotics and inadequate use of compression therapy. Stasis dermatitis related to chronic venous insufficiency accompanied by infected superficial ulcers must be differentiated from erysipelas, cellulitis and contact eczema.

Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of (1) topical povidone-iodine with and (2) without compression bandages, (3) to compare the efficacy of systemic antibiotics and topical antimicrobial agents to prevent the progression of superficial skin ulcers.

Patients and methods: 63 patients presenting ulcerated stasis dermatitis due to deep venous refluxes were included in the study. The clinical stage of all patients was homogeneous determined by clinical, aetiological, anatomical and pathological classification. They were examined by taking a bacteriological swab from their ulcer area. Compression bandages were used in a total of 42 patients. Twenty-one patients with superficial infected (Staphylococcus aureus) ulcers were treated locally with povidone-iodine (Betadine), and 21 patients were treated with systemic antibiotics (amoxicillin). Twenty-one patients were treated locally with Betadine but did not use compression. The end point was the time of ulcus healing. The healing process of the ulcers was related to the impact of bacterial colonization and clinical signs of infection.

Results: Compression increases the ulcer healing rate compared with no compression. Using the same local povidone-iodine (Betadine) treatment with compression bandages is more effective (82%) for ulcus healing than without compression therapy (62%). The healing rate of ulcers treated with systemic antibiotics was not significantly better (85%) than that of the Betadine group. Using systemic antibiotics, the relapse rate of superficial bacterial infections (impetigo, folliculitis) was significantly higher (32%) than in patients with local disinfection (11%).

Conclusion: Compression is essential in the mobilization of the interstitial lymphatic fluid from the region of stasis dermatitis. Topical disinfection and appropriate wound dressings are important to prevent wound infection. Systemic antibiotics are necessary only in systemic infections (fever, lymphangitis, lymphadenopathy, erysipelas).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amoxicillin / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Bandages
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Povidone-Iodine / pharmacology
  • Povidone-Iodine / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Control
  • Recurrence
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcus aureus*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicose Ulcer / therapy*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects
  • Wound Healing / physiology*
  • Wound Infection / drug therapy


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Amoxicillin
  • Povidone-Iodine