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Dermatology Online Journal

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Review of the use of gentian violet in dermatology practice


Objective: To review the use of gentian violet in dermatology. Design: A comprehensive literature search on gentian violet in dermatology practice was performed through PubMed. Results: Gentian violet is effective in treating methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus-colonized skin lesions; mean number of days for complete eradication was 9.1 days. Gentian violet is almost as effective as ketoconazole and more effective than nystatin in the treatment of oral thrush in AIDS patients. In an in vitro study on cutaneous T cell lymphoma cell lines, there was no difference between nitrogen mustard and gentian violet in stimulating apoptosis. When comparing gentian violet to silver sulfadiazine dressings in healing burn wounds, the gentian violet treatment group reported less pain, fewer febrile episodes, and decreased bacterial growth compared to control. In atopic dermatitis subjects, gentian violet decreased Staphylococcus aureus colonization and improved disease severity in lesional skin compared to non-lesional skin. Conclusion: Studies have investigated gentian violet's antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, anti-angiogenic, antitumor, and wound healing properties. Gentian violet is a low cost and well-tolerated topical agent with the potential for widespread applications in dermatology.

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