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WILTON, Conn. -- At a time when Americans are hearing more and more about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Beiersdorf USA, maker of the Curad line of first aid and wound-care products, is launching a new line of bandages with a natural antibacterial, new Curad Silver.
"Silver dressings are used regularly in the hospital setting to help control infections in major wounds and burns," says Philip M. Tierno, PhD, renowned microbiologist and author of The Secret Life of Germs. "With the introduction of the new Curad Silver bandage line, consumers can find bandages on store shelves that use silver in the wound pad as a natural antibacterial."
Silver has a long history of antibacterial uses. In the Middle Ages, wealthy families thought that this metal had disease-fighting properties, so they fed their children with silver spoons (hence the origin of the phrase, "born with a silver spoon in your mouth"). Today, everyone from astronauts to campers use silver to help purify water; many medical instruments, including catheters, are lined with silver to diminish the chance of infection.
"Over the years, silver has tested effective against many different microbes," says Tierno, who is also director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center in New York City. "Silver works in unique ways, which can help lessen the problem of antibacterial resistance."
Antibacterial ointments, for instance, usually kill germs in only one way, which becomes easy for the microbes to get around, allowing them to become resistant. Silver, however, works on germs in multiple ways, so microbes are less able to become resistant.
"Silver works in at least three different ways: by interfering with important enzyme systems of bacteria, by interacting with the cell membrane and by binding to the DNA of cells -- all of which are fatal to bacterial germs," explains Tierno. "Laboratory testing showed that silver in the dressing reduced the growth of bacteria like Staph aureus, E. coli, E. hirae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a powerful germ that does not respond to many antibacterials, for 24 hours," he adds.