Chitosan preparations for wounds and burns: antimicrobial and wound-healing effects

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2011 Jul;9(7):857-79. doi: 10.1586/eri.11.59.


Since its discovery approximately 200 years ago, chitosan, as a cationic natural polymer, has been widely used as a topical dressing in wound management owing to its hemostatic, stimulation of healing, antimicrobial, nontoxic, biocompatible and biodegradable properties. This article covers the antimicrobial and wound-healing effects of chitosan, as well as its derivatives and complexes, and its use as a vehicle to deliver biopharmaceuticals, antimicrobials and growth factors into tissue. Studies covering applications of chitosan in wounds and burns can be classified into in vitro, animal and clinical studies. Chitosan preparations are classified into native chitosan, chitosan formulations, complexes and derivatives with other substances. Chitosan can be used to prevent or treat wound and burn infections not only because of its intrinsic antimicrobial properties, but also by virtue of its ability to deliver extrinsic antimicrobial agents to wounds and burns. It can also be used as a slow-release drug-delivery vehicle for growth factors to improve wound healing. The large number of publications in this area suggests that chitosan will continue to be an important agent in the management of wounds and burns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bandages
  • Burns / drug therapy*
  • Burns / pathology
  • Chitosan* / analogs & derivatives
  • Chitosan* / pharmacology
  • Chitosan* / therapeutic use
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / pharmacology
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / therapeutic use
  • Dogs
  • Drug Carriers / pharmacology
  • Drug Carriers / therapeutic use
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Fungi / growth & development
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / growth & development
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*
  • Wound Healing / physiology
  • Wound Infection / drug therapy*
  • Wound Infection / pathology
  • Wound Infection / prevention & control
  • Wounds, Penetrating / drug therapy*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / pathology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Drug Carriers
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Chitosan