silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene, SSD, SSD AF, Thermazene)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.


For adults, adolescents, children, and infants 2 months of age and older:

  • After cleaning and debridement, silver sulfadiazine may be applied to the affected area(s) to a thickness of approximately 1.6 mm (1/16 of an inch) once or twice daily.
  • The cream may be reapplied whenever necessary to affected area(s) if it is removed by activity or washing.
  • Silver sulfadiazine is not recommended for use in premature neonates or neonates < 2 months of age.


  • Silver sulfadiazine reduces the effect of collagenase (Santyl) ointment which is used for treating dermal ulcers.
  • No significant drug interactions with oral medications have been reported with silver sulfadiazine use.


  • Use of topical silver sulfadiazine has not been adequately evaluated in pregnant women. Due to the lack of conclusive safety data, silver sulfadiazine should be used in pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Silver sulfadiazine is classified as FDA pregnancy risk category B (animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women).
  • It is not known if silver sulfadiazine is excreted in breast milk. However, silver sulfadiazine is a sulfonamide and oral sulfonamides are excreted into breast milk and increase the risk of kernicterus, a rare type of brain damage in newborns caused by very high levels of bilirubin. Therefore, use of silver sulfadiazine in females who are breastfeeding is not recommended.

PREPARATIONS: 1% topical cream

STORAGE: Cream should be stored at room temperature between 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).

How does silver sulfadiazine work?

  • Silver sulfadiazine is a topical (applied to the skin) antimicrobial agent used to treat and prevent skin infections caused by second or third degree burns.
  • Silver sulfadiazine kills bacteria by damaging the bacterial cell membrane. Silver sulfadiazine has activity against a broad spectrum of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Xanthomonas maltophilia, Enterobacter species, Klebsiella species, Escherichia coli, Serratia species, Proteus mirabilis, Morganella morganii, Providencia rettgeri, Proteus vulgaris, Providencia species, Citrobacter species, Acinetobacter calcoaceticus, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Enterococcus species, Candida albicans, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, and Clostridium perfringens. Additionally, silver sulfadiazine has demonstrated activity against yeast.
  • Silver sulfadiazine was approved by the FDA in 1973.

REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/28/2016

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