The use of antibiotics on the surface of the body or in its cavities is often undesirable because of the risks of encouraging the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms and of causing hypersensitivity reactions. Antiseptics, substances with an antibacterial action but not suitable for systemic administration, are therefore useful if they have a very broad antimicrobial spectrum, negligible tissue toxicity and allergenicity, and high and rapid activity in the presence of excess organic material. A group of hydroxymethylurea antiseptics, represented by polynoxylin and noxytiolin, possess many of these properties.
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