Treatment of minor wounds from dermatologic procedures: a comparison of three topical wound care ointments using a laser wound model

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Mar;64(3 Suppl):S8-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2010.11.011. Epub 2011 Jan 17.


Background: Topical antibiotic ointments are commonly used for postoperative wound care after dermatologic procedures such as curettage, electrodessication, or shave removals. Antibiotics have the potential to cause allergic contact dermatitis and increase drug resistance and may not be necessary for the treatment of clean surgical wounds.

Objective: This study compared the wound healing properties of the topical wound care ointments Aquaphor Healing Ointment (AHO) (Beiersdorf Inc, Wilton, CT), Neosporin (Poly/Bac/Neo) (Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ), and Polysporin (Poly/Bac) (Johnson & Johnson) using a laser wound model.

Methods: In this double-blind study, 4 uniform circular erbium/carbon dioxide laser wounds penetrating to the dermis were made in 20 subjects. Each wound was treated 3 times daily for 18 days with AHO, Poly/Bac/Neo, or Poly/Bac, with one wound left untreated (control). Efficacy and safety were assessed using clinical grading, transepidermal water loss, investigator grading of wound appearance, subjective ranking of wound appearance, and adverse event reporting.

Results: Significant improvements in erythema (days 7-18), edema (days 4 and 7), epithelial confluence (days 7-18), and general wound appearance (days 7-18) were observed with AHO compared with Poly/Bac/Neo and Poly/Bac (P ≤ .007). No differences were observed between Poly/Bac/Neo and Poly/Bac for any clinical parameters. The average transepidermal water loss value on day 4 was significantly less with AHO compared with the other treatments (P = .0006). Subjects ranked the treated sites as follows: AHO (best), Poly/Bac, and Poly/Bac/Neo. No adverse events were reported.

Limitations: This was a small pilot study using a laser wound model to replicate minor wounds.

Conclusions: AHO demonstrated fast and effective improvements in several wound healing parameters compared with antibiotic-containing treatments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacitracin / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lasers* / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neomycin / therapeutic use*
  • Ointments / therapeutic use*
  • Petrolatum / therapeutic use*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Polymyxin B / therapeutic use*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Drug Combinations
  • Ointments
  • bacitracin, polymyxin B drug combination
  • Bacitracin
  • Petrolatum
  • bacitracin zinc, neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B, drug combination
  • Neomycin
  • Polymyxin B