Burow's solution

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Burow's solution is a pharmacological preparation made with aluminium acetate (usually at 13%) dissolved in water. It was invented in the mid-19th century by Karl August Burow, an ophthalmologist.

The preparation has astringent and antibacterial properties and is used to treat a number of skin conditions such as insect bites, rashes caused by poison ivy and poison sumac, swelling, allergies and bruises. Burow's solution is traditionally applied in cold compresses over the affected area. In otology, it is applied as ear drops of a 5% of aluminium acetate.[1] Burow's solution is available over the counter as a generic preparation. Branded US preparations include Domeboro, Domeboro Otic, Star-Otic, and Borofair.[2]

Burow also developed a procedure that facilitates plastic surgical operations, whereby a triangle of skin is cut out which then closes up as one side is pulled upon to close a wound or skin defect distant to the Burow's triangle.[citation needed]


Saturation divers have reported otitis externa during occupational exposure, and widely use Otic Domeboro prophylactic ear drops.[3][4] Effectiveness was confirmed by a trial on 26 divers irrigating the ear canals with a 2% acetic in aluminum acetate solution each morning and evening and after each head immersion by the United States Navy Experimental Diving Unit in 1974.[5] In vitro tests found it an effective agent against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the microorganism implicated in divers' otitis.[6]

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  1. ^ Thorp et al.; Kruger, J.; Oliver, S.; Nilssen, E. L. K.; Prescott, C. A. J. (1998). "The antibacterial activity of acetic acid and Burow's solution as topical otological preparations". J. Laryngology & Otology (Cambridge University Press) 112 (112): 925–928. doi:10.1017/S0022215100142100. 
  2. ^ Drugs.com: Acetic acid/ aluminum acetate solution
  3. ^ Cobet AB, Wright DN, Warren PI (June 1970). "Tektite-I program: bacteriological aspects". Aerosp Med 41 (6): 611–6. PMID 4392833. 
  4. ^ Ahlén C, Mandal LH, Iversen OJ (July 1998). "Identification of infectious Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains in an occupational saturation diving environment". Occup Environ Med 55 (7): 480–4. doi:10.1136/oem.55.7.480. PMC 1757612. PMID 9816382. Retrieved 2013-05-18. 
  5. ^ Thalmann, Edward D (1974). "A Prophylactic Program for the Prevention of Otitis Externa in Saturation Divers". United States Navy Experimental Diving Unit Technical Report. NEDU-RR-10-74. Retrieved 2013-05-18. 
  6. ^ Dibb WL (September 1985). "In vitro efficacy of Otic Domeboro against Pseudomonas aeruginosa". Undersea Biomedical Research 12 (3): 307–13. PMID 3933153. Retrieved 2013-05-18.