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Cent Afr J Med. 2002 Sep-Oct;48(9-10):105-8.

A comparison of topical Phenytoin with Silverex in the treatment of superficial dermal burn wounds.

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Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.



To compare topical diphenylhydantion (Phenytoin) with silver sulphadiazine/chlorhexidine (Silverex) in terms of rate of wound healing, analgesic and antibacterial properties in small to moderate-sized (< 30% TBSA) superficial dermal (second degree) burn wounds.


A prospective randomized controlled study.


Surgical wards, Muhimbili National Hospital from July 2000 to February 2001.


Sixty four patients with acute burns, 32 in each group.


Study group treated by sprinkling Phenytoin powder and control group by sprinkling Silverex powder on the wounds for 14 days or until the wound epithelialised or was ready for skin grafting. The data collected included demographic characteristics of patients, aetiology of burn injury, circumstances of injury, site and extent of burns, pus discharge and smell from the wound, pain and discomfort from the wound, bacterial cultures of wound swabs, rate of reduction in wound size and outcome of treatment.


The study enrolled 33 male and 31 female patients, 69% being children under five years of age. Hot liquids (80%) and open flames (20%) were the only causes of burns. In 97% of patients injury was due to domestic accidents. In half of the patients burns involved the trunk, and 52% of all patients had less than 15% total body surface burnt. Pus discharge was recorded in 59% of Phenytoin-treated and 75% in Silverex-treated patients while foul smell was noted in 19% and 31% of cases respectively. There were more negative bacterial wound cultures in Phenytoin-than Silverex-treated wounds on day five and day 10 of treatment, the difference being statistically significant (p < 0.01 and 0.001 respectively). There was also a statistically significant difference in wound pain in favour of Phenytoin (p < 0.01). There was no statistically significant difference in the rate of healing in the two groups.


Phenytoin is a cheap and easy-to-use medicament, effective in suppressing burn wound bacteria and relieving pain thereby promoting healing, and may be advocated for the purpose in resource-scarce environments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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