Antimicrobials in dermatologic surgery: facts and controversies

Clin Dermatol. 2010 Sep-Oct;28(5):505-10. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.007.


The two main uses of antimicrobials in dermatologic surgery include prophylaxis for bacteremia and prevention of localized surgical skin infection (LSSI). Bacteremia can result in hematogenous surgical infections such as infective endocarditis and prosthetic joint infection. Comprehensive guidelines from the American Heart Society (AHA), American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) have significantly reduced the number of patients in which prophylaxis is indicated for hematogenous surgical infection. The use of antimicrobials for localized surgical skin infection in dermatology is controversial. Although the overall trend in the literature supports the decreased use of antimicrobials in dermatologic surgery as a whole, it is important to know which situations still warrant antibiotics. This contribution will address the updated guidelines of the AHA, ADA, and AAOS, evidence-based techniques to decrease localized surgical skin infections, and situations in which antibiotics should be considered during dermatologic surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis*
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / microbiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / prevention & control
  • Skin Diseases / surgery*
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / prevention & control
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control


  • Anti-Infective Agents