Topical antimicrobials are often employed for decolonization and infection prevention and may alter the endogenous microbiota of the skin. The objective of this study was to compare the microbial communities and levels of richness and diversity in community-dwelling subjects and intensive care unit (ICU) patients before and after the use of topical decolonization protocols. We enrolled 15 adults at risk for Staphylococcus aureus infection. Community subjects (n = 8) underwent a 5-day decolonization protocol (twice daily intranasal mupirocin and daily dilute bleach-water baths), and ICU patients (n = 7) received daily chlorhexidine baths. Swab samples were collected from 5 anatomic sites immediately before and again after decolonization. A variety of culture media and incubation environments were used to recover bacteria and fungi; isolates were identified using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry. Overall, 174 unique organisms were recovered. Unique communities of organisms were recovered from the community-dwelling and hospitalized cohorts. In the community-dwelling cohort, microbial richness and diversity did not differ significantly between collections across time points, although the number of body sites colonized with S. aureus decreased significantly over time (P = 0.004). Within the hospitalized cohort, richness and diversity decreased over time compared to those for the enrollment sampling (from enrollment to final sampling, P = 0.01 for both richness and diversity). Topical antimicrobials reduced the burden of S. aureus while preserving other components of the skin and nasal microbiota.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7303-7312
Number of pages10
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016


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