An increase in the number of infants with clinical staphylococcal infection (primarily Group II Staphylococcus aureus) was observed in a newborn nursery following discontinuation of daily hexachlorophene bathing of infants in December 1971. An increase was also apparent among infants seen at the hospital outpatient services. These infections were generally superficial, mild, and there were no deaths. A review of all nursery infections indicated that there was a slight overall increase in the infection rate which was entirely due to S. aureus.
Weekly colonization surveys were undertaken while hexachlorophene emulsion was reintroduced as a control measure in part of the nursery population. Hexachlorophene was effective in reducing the incidence of colonization even when rinsed off the skin at the end of each bath and when used to a maximum of five baths for each infant. The reintroduction of limited use of hexachlorophene was followed by a reduction in the number of staphylococcal infections.