Silver sulfadiazine

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Silver sulfadiazine
Silver sulfadiazine Silvadene.svg
Clinical data
Trade names Silvadene
Synonyms (4-Amino-N-2-pyrimidinylbenzenesulfonamidato-NN,01)-silver, sulfadiazine silver, silver (I) sulfadiazine, 4-amino-N-(2-pyrimidinyl)benzenesulfonamide silver salt
AHFS/ Monograph
MedlinePlus a682598
  • B (not recommended in late pregnancy)
Routes of
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
  • In general: ℞ (Prescription only)
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability <1% (silver), 10% (sulfadiazine)
Protein binding High (silver)
Excretion 2/3 renal (sulfadiazine)
CAS Number
PubChem CID
ECHA InfoCard 100.040.743 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Formula C10H9AgN4O2S
Molar mass 357.14 g/mol
3D model (JSmol)
Melting point 285 °C (545 °F)
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Silver sulfadiazine, sold under the brand Silvadene among others, is a topical antibiotic used in partial thickness and full thickness burns to prevent infection.[1] Tentative evidence has found other antibiotics to be more effective and therefore it is no longer generally recommended.[2][3]

Common side effects include itching and pain at the site of use.[4] Other side effects include low white blood cell levels, allergic reactions, bluish grey discoloration of the skin, red blood cell breakdown, or liver inflammation.[4] Caution should be used in those allergic to other sulfonamides.[4] It should not be used in pregnant women who are close to delivery.[4] Silver sulfadiazine is not recommended in children less than two months.[4]

Silver sulfadiazine was discovered in the 1960s.[5] It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.[6] It is available as a generic medication.[4] In the developing world the wholesale cost is between 0.004 and 0.072 USD per gram.[7] In the United States a course of treatment is generally 25 to 50 USD.[8]

Medical uses[edit]

Tentative evidence has found other antibiotics to be more effective in the healing of superficial and partial thickness burn injuries; therefore, it is no longer generally recommended.[2][3] A Cochrane review from 2013 found that most of the trials that met inclusion criteria for the review had methodological shortcomings and thus are of little use in assessing the efficacy of silver sulfadiazine in the healing of burn injuries.[2] Another Cochrane systematic review from 2010 concluded, "There is insufficient evidence to establish whether silver-containing dressings or topical agents promote wound healing or prevent wound infection".[9] Other reviews of the evidence have also concluded, "[the] quality of the trials was limited".[10] Cochrane has raised concerns about delays in time to wound healing when SSD is used.[2] In addition to concerns regarding delayed wound healing, silver sulfadiazine is associated with sloughing of the wound surface that makes reassessment of wound depth difficult, and requires daily reapplication.[11] For this reason, application of silver sulfadiazine is not recommended for most burns due to altered wound appearance and the frequency of required dressing changes.[11]

Adverse effects[edit]

A noninfection-related clear fluid may form on the wound's surface. Burning and painful sensations are not uncommon but are only temporary.

Application to large areas or to severe burns may lead to systemic absorption and lead to adverse effects similar to those of other sulfonamides.[12] About 0.1 to 1.0% of people show hypersensitivity reactions such as rashes or erythema multiforme.[13] This reaction is known from other sulfonamides including antibacterials, thiazide diuretics, and sulfonylurea antidiabetics; but data on the likelihood of cross-allergies are inconsistent.

Incorporation of the silver ions can lead to local argyria (discoloration of the skin), especially if the treated area is exposed to ultraviolet light. Generalised argyria with silver accumulation in kidneys, liver, and retina has only been found in association with excessive long-term use, or repeated use on severe and heavily inflamed burns. Possible consequences of generalised argyria include interstitial nephritis and anemia.[13]


Proteases such as trypsin and clostridiopeptidase, which are contained in ointments used for the removal of dead skin on wounds, can be inhibited by silver ions if applied simultaneously. When silver sulfadiazine is absorbed in significant amounts, it can increase effects and side effects of some drugs such as vitamin K antagonists.[13]


The chemical is poorly soluble, and has only very limited penetration through intact skin.[13][14] However, contact with body fluids produces free sulfadiazine which can then be systemically absorbed and distributed; it undergoes glucuronidation in the liver and is also excreted unaltered in urine.[14] Only when applied to large-area (especially second- and third- degree) burns or other lesions is absorption into the body a problem.[13][14]


Brand names include Silvadene (a genericized trademark), Silverex, Silverol, Silvazine, Flamazine, Thermazene, BurnHeal, and SSD.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marx, John; Walls, Ron; Hockberger, Robert (2013). Rosen's Emergency Medicine - Concepts and Clinical Practice. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 814. ISBN 1455749877. Archived from the original on 2016-09-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d Wasiak, J; Cleland, H; Campbell, F; Spinks, A (28 March 2013). "Dressings for superficial and partial thickness burns". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 3: CD002106. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002106.pub4. PMID 23543513. It is impossible to draw firm and confident conclusions about the effectiveness of specific dressings, however silver sulphadiazine was consistently associated with poorer healing outcomes than biosynthetic, silicon-coated and silver dressings whilst hydrogel-treated burns had better healing outcomes than those treated with usual care. 
  3. ^ a b Heyneman, A; Hoeksema, H; Vandekerckhove, D; Pirayesh, A; Monstrey, S (25 April 2016). "The role of silver sulphadiazine in the conservative treatment of partial thickness burn wounds: A systematic review". Burns : journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries. 42: 1377–1386. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2016.03.029. PMID 27126813. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Silver Sulfadiazine". American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. June 1, 2008. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  5. ^ Coran, Arnold G.; Caldamone, Anthony; Adzick, N. Scott; Krummel, Thomas M.; Laberge, Jean-Martin; Shamberger, Robert (2012). Pediatric Surgery (7 ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 369. ISBN 032309161X. Archived from the original on 2016-09-13. 
  6. ^ "WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (19th List)" (PDF). World Health Organization. April 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  7. ^ "Silver Sulfadiazine". International Drug Price Indicator Guide. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  8. ^ Facep, Hamilton MD Faaem Facmt (2014). Tarascon Pharmacopoeia 2014 Professional Desk Reference Edition. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 157. ISBN 9781284056716. Archived from the original on 2016-09-13. 
  9. ^ Storm-Versloot, MN; Vos, CG; Ubbink, DT; Vermeulen, H (Mar 17, 2010). Storm-Versloot, Marja N, ed. "Topical silver for preventing wound infection". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3): CD006478. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006478.pub2. PMID 20238345. 
  10. ^ Lo SF, Hayter M, Chang CJ, Hu WY, Lee LL (2008). "A systematic review of silver-releasing dressings in the management of infected chronic wounds". Journal of clinical nursing. 17 (15): 1973–85. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.02264.x. PMID 18705778. 
  11. ^ a b Maitz, Peter; Harish, Varun (15 April 2016). "How to Treat: Burns". Australian Doctor. Retrieved 15 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "Silver Sulfadiazine". 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Jasek, W, ed. (2007). Austria-Codex (in German). 2 (62 ed.). Vienna: Österreichischer Apothekerverlag. pp. 3270–1. ISBN 978-3-85200-181-4. 
  14. ^ a b c "silver sulfadiazine - Drug Summary". Prescribers' Digital Reference. 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017. 
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-04-17. Retrieved 2011-07-03.  This source names Silvadene, SSD, SSD AF, Thermazene