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Chinese herbal medicines for treating skin and soft-tissue infections

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Background: Skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs) are common infections of the epidermis, dermis or subcutaneous tissue. SSTIs range in severity from minor, self-limiting, superficial infections to deep, aggressive, gangrenous, life-threatening infections. Some classifications divide SSTIs into 'complicated' and 'uncomplicated' infections based on clinical severity. Treatments of SSTIs involves antibiotic therapy, surgical debridement or drainage, and resuscitation if required. Sometimes these treatments are limited by high treatment costs, bacterial resistance to antibiotics and side effects, therefore, many people with SSTIs are turning to Chinese herbal medicines to treat this problem. Chinese herbal medicines are natural substances that have been used for centuries in China where they are generally considered to be effective for SSTIs. Some Chinese herbal medicines have been shown to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, although a few herbal medicines have been reported to have side effects. Therefore there is a need to review the current clinical evidence systematically to inform current practice and guide future studies on Chinese herbal medicines for SSTIs. Objectives: To evaluate the benefits and harms of Chinese herbal medicines for treating skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs). Search methods: Searches were not restricted by date, language or publication status. In July 2014 we searched the following electronic databases: the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations); Ovid EMBASE; Ovid AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine); and EBSCO CINAHL. Selection criteria: All randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in people with SSTIs that compared Chinese herbal medicines with another intervention or control. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors screened the literature search results independently; there were no disagreements. Main results: We identified no RCTs that met the inclusion criteria. Authors' conclusions: There is currently no information available from RCTs to support or refute the use of Chinese herbal medicines in treating people with SSTIs.




Wang, Y. F., Que, H. F., Wang, Y. J., & Cui, X. J. (2014, July 25). Chinese herbal medicines for treating skin and soft-tissue infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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