Effects of isopropyl alcohol, ethanol, and polyethylene glycol/industrial methylated spirits in the treatment of acute phenol burns

David M. Hunter, Beverly L. Timerding, Ralph B. Leonard, Timothy H. McCalmont, Earl Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Study objective: To compare the effects of water rinse with those of isopropyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol with industrial methylated spirits, or ethanol on cutaneous phenol burns. Design: Controlled trial with all animals receiving all treatments applied to different cutaneous phenol burn sites. Type of participants: Swine weighing 9 to 18 kg. Interventions: In phase 1, each burn site was treated with water rinse for zero, one, or five minutes combined with either isopropyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol with industrial methylated spirits, ethanol, or no other treatment. Biopsies of treatment sites were done at 30 minutes and at 48 hours. In phase 2, a pilot study, the effect of isopropyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol with industrial methylated spirits, or water treatment on serum phenol levels was noted in animals with 5%, 10%, and 15% body surface area burns. Measurements and main results: In phase 1, on histological examination of biopsy specimens, significant differences in tissue damage occurred among the groups (P < .05). Isopropyl alcohol and polyethylene glycol with industrial methylated spirits were the most efficacious treatments; the duration of water rinse had no significant effect. In phase 2, the systemic absorption of phenol may be greater with water treatment than with isopropyl alcohol treatment. Conclusion: Isopropyl alcohol and polyethylene glycol with industrial methylated spirits are equally effective in the amelioration of phenol burns of less than 5% total surface area. The wider availability of isopropyl alcohol makes it potentially the most useful treatment for these small burns. Further studies of its risks are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1303-1307
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Volume21
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1992
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • alcohol, isopropyl burns, chemical ethanol polyethylene glycol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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