The benefits of silver in hygiene, personal care and healthcare

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2009 Aug;49(2):147-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2009.02648.x. Epub 2009 Jun 10.


Silver has been used for centuries as an antimicrobial agent to reduce bioburden and prevent infection. Its usage diminished when antibiotics were introduced but remained one of the most popular agents for wound infections, especially in burned patients. Incorporation of silver into a range of hygiene and healthcare applications has increased, and this has raised concerns over the development of silver resistance, toxicity, methods of testing products and evidence of efficacy. The published evidence for resistance and toxicity is limited and associated with frequent and high levels of silver used. Increasing evidence of improved antimicrobial activity of nanoparticles of silver and possible dual immunomodulatory effects are exciting. This may lead to further product development as potential alternative preservatives as some currently available preservatives have an increasing incidence of allergic reactions. Acknowledging the role of the carrier is important, and as silver is active when in solution, opens a window of opportunity in personal hygiene area. This is important in an age when multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming prevalent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / toxicity
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Immunologic Factors / toxicity
  • Nanoparticles
  • Silver / pharmacology
  • Silver / therapeutic use*
  • Silver / toxicity


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Silver