Crystaderm is an anti-bacterial first aid cream available over-the-counter (OTC). It is a topical treatment that treats cuts, grazes, burns, skin infections, school sores, and acne.

Crucially, Crystaderm does not carry any risk of antibiotic resistance.1 This has become a very important point of difference in the first aid treatment market given increasing concern about the over-use of antibiotics world-wide.

For example, it has been estimated that drug-resistant strains of bacteria are responsible for 5,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom, and approximately 25,000 death a year across Europe.2

Announcing a expert government review into antibiotic resistance, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said that “if we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back to the dark ages of medicine where treatable infections and injuries will kill once again”.


In Australia and New Zealand the issue of antibiotic resistance has likewise been receiving increased attention.

Renowned Australasian clinical microbiologist Deborah Williamson has stated “our current use of topical antibiotics is endangering our antibiotic supply and putting lives at risk.”3

Infectious diseases experts have drawn particular attention to the growing link between topical antibiotic treatments and the superbug MRSA.4 The overuse of antibiotic topical creams and ointments commonly used for children’s skin infections has been identified as being especially problematic.


Fusidic acid is a narrow-spectrum antibiotic commonly used in topical form. Its use rapidly increased in New Zealand 15 years ago after mupirocin (which has similar activity to fusidic acid) shifted from being an OTC treatment to prescription only.5

AFT’s research team could see that the increased use of fusidic acid would likely create future problems from a drug resistance point of view. The company wanted to offer people a treatment option that was both effective and non-antibiotic.

With this in mind, AFT sought and acquired ownership of the technology and formulation that underpins Crystaderm. The key to the product is the slow release hydrogen peroxide. No bacterial resistance exists for hydrogen peroxide.6 This allows for effective healing without furthering antibiotic resistance. Indeed, the lack of antibiotic resistance was one of the key reasons why New Zealand’s drug buying agency, PHARMAC, agreed to fully fund Crystaderm.

Aside from the safety of the product, its efficacy has been well established by its commercial success. Crystaderm holds around 50% market share in the New Zealand market against all other national and international branded products in this category.

Along with Maxigesic and the Maxiclear range, Crystaderm stands as further testament to the company’s underlying ethical approach to drug development.

  1. Lindahl, A., Skin Care in Practice (1995) Volume 4: 9-10 
  2. Fergus Walsh “Antibiotic resistance: Cameron warns of medical 'dark ages’”, BBC Health (2 July 2014)
  3. Stacey Kirk and Donna-Lee Biddle “Kids’ skin cream spawns superbug” (18 March 2015)
  4. Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases “Childhood skin infections drive emergence of new antibiotic-resistant superbug in New Zealand” (Media release, 18 March 2015).
  5. “Topical antibiotics: Very few indications for use” Best Practice Journal (2014) 64, 28.
  6. Lindahl, A., Skin Care in Practice (1995) Volume 4: 9-10.