Antiseptic dyes

LivingstonA recent newspaper article told a story of Scottish explorer Dr David Livingston. Livingston was attacked by a Lion in 1843 leaving eleven deep tooth marks in his arm also splintering the bone–and he survived! The explorers theory was that the tartan jacket he was wearing saved his life wiping the lions teeth clean with the cloth, others who were attacked and not wearing a tartan jacket suffered very painful wounds. Big cats like domestic cats, dogs and rabbits carry the infective Pasturella multicoda in the respiratory tract which could have easily given him septicaemia. Typical dyes of early cloth have included Cochineal: producing Red, Madder (Rubina tinctorum): a Red/purple colour and Weld (Reseda Luteold) :Yellow, all have been found to contain Carminic Acid known to inhibit bacterial growth. So the dyes in his jacket may very well have had the anti bacterial affect on the animals teeth.

In the foot care profession dyes have also been used for their antiseptic properties for many years but have largely fallen out of favour due to the stains produced and a study that linked Gentian Violet to cancer, although it had to be used in large quantities. The main ones used are then Gentian Violet in water or spirit which has anti fungal properties, Brilliant Green used against gram positive organisims and Triple Dye controlling Staphylococcal (gram positive) infections (this made up of Gentian Violet, Brilliant Green and Proflavine Hemisulphate)

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