Garlic ointment inhibits biofilm formation by bacterial pathogens from burn wounds

J Med Microbiol. 2012 May;61(Pt 5):662-671. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.038638-0. Epub 2012 Feb 2.


When thermal injury damages the skin, the physical barrier protecting underlying tissues from invading micro-organisms is compromised and the host's immune system becomes supressed, facilitating colonization and infection of burn wounds with micro-organisms. Within the wound, bacteria often develop biofilms, which protect the bacteria from the immune response and enhance their resistance to antibiotics. As the prophylactic use of conventional antibiotics drives selection of drug-resistant strains, the use of novel agents to prevent biofilm formation by wound pathogens is essential. In the present study, we utilized our recently developed in vitro wound biofilm model to examine the antibiofilm activity of garlic (Allium sativum). Wound pathogens were inoculated on sterile cellulose discs, exposed to formulated garlic ointment (GarO) or ointment base, and incubated to allow biofilm development. Biofilms were quantified and visualized microscopically. GarO prevented biofilm development by Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii and Klebsiella pneumoniae, and caused a 2-5 log reduction of the bioburden within Enterococcus faecalis biofilms. Additionally, GarO disrupted partially developed biofilms produced by S. aureus, S. epidermidis and A. baumannii. The antistaphylococcal activity of GarO was stable for over 3 months at room temperature. Thus, GarO could be used as a prophylactic therapy to prevent wound biofilms caused by both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria from forming, and may be a potential therapy for disrupting established staphylococcal biofilms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Bacterial Load
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Burns / microbiology*
  • Garlic / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Ointments / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Wound Infection / microbiology
  • Wound Infection / prevention & control*


  • Ointments
  • Plant Extracts