Silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene, SSD, SSD AF, Thermazene) is a topical antimicrobial ointment for burn injuries that’s effective on gram-positive bacteria, gram-negative bacteria, and some yeasts.1  It soothes, may prevent infection, and keeps burn injuries from drying out.

   And our regional burn center rarely uses it.

Silver sulfadiazine can be used for burn injuries in the right patient, but burn centers normally handle deeper or large surface area moderate-to-severe burns that may require grafting or other burn coverings.  When a patient may need this degree of care, silver sulfadiazine may not be as helpful.  It can form a layer that inhibits graft material from bonding properly over the wound.  In some cases, the ointment must be scrubbed off of the fresh burn injury — an uncomfortable process and not helping the patient’s healing process.  In deep or large area burns, there may also be a risk of systemic absorption of free sulfadiazine.1

For minor burn injuries that do not require the services of a burn trauma center, silver sulfadiazine is an option.  For the more serious cases, please don’t use any ointment, salves, or medications on the injury before transport to a burn center.  Less is more in this case.


1   Silvadene – silver sulfadiazine cream 1%. Pfizer Laboratories, Inc. Last revised: September 2016. Web site: Accessed February 6, 2021.