header advert
You currently have no access to view or download this content. Please log in with your institutional or personal account if you should have access to through either of these
The Bone & Joint Journal Logo

Receive monthly Table of Contents alerts from The Bone & Joint Journal

Comprehensive article alerts can be set up and managed through your account settings

View my account settings

Get Access locked padlock


The PINS Trial: a prospective randomized clinical trial comparing a traditional versus an emollient skincare regimen for the care of pin-sites in patients with circular frames

Download PDF



Pin-site infection remains a significant problem for patients treated by external fixation. A randomized trial was undertaken to compare the weekly use of alcoholic chlorhexidine (CHX) for pin-site care with an emollient skin preparation in patients with a tibial fracture treated with a circular frame.


Patients were randomized to use either 0.5% CHX or Dermol (DML) 500 emollient pin-site care. A skin biopsy was taken from the tibia during surgery to measure the dermal and epidermal thickness and capillary, macrophage, and T-cell counts per high-powered field. The pH and hydration of the skin were measured preoperatively, at follow-up, and if pin-site infection occurred. Pin-site infection was defined using a validated clinical system.


Out of 116 patients who were enrolled in the study, 23 patients (40%) in the CHX group and 26 (44%) in the DML group had at least one bad or ugly pin-site infection. This difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.71). There was no significant relationship between pH or hydration of the skin and pin-site infection. The epidermal thickness was found to be significantly greater in patients who had a pin-site infection compared with those who did not (p = 0.01). Skin irritation requiring a change of treatment occurred in four patients (7%) using CHX, and none using DML.


We found no significant difference in the incidence of pin-site infection between the CHX and DML treatment groups. Dermol appeared to offer a small but significant advantage in terms of tolerability. We did not find a significant association between patient or treatment related factors and pin-site infection. It is therefore difficult to make specific recommendations based upon these results. The use of either cleaning agent appears to be appropriate.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(2):279–285.

Correspondence should be sent to Professor Hemant Sharma. E-mail:

For access options please click here