This is the short, sweet and simple low down of Iodine versus Alcohol (and even Hydrogen Peroxide) in the use of cleaning and disinfecting wounds.
If you have ever purchased a pre-made medical kit, you may have noticed there are both Iodine prep pads and alcohol wipes.
They both are used to clean and disinfect a wound right?
The simple answer: Iodine for wounds. Alcohol for equipment.
Iodine is more effective at killing microbes and its’ disinfectant properties last longer than
alcohol wipes. Iodine comes most commonly in two forms: tincture (which can also be used for water purification) and Providone-Iodine (typically in individually packaged wipe form.)
My favorite form of Iodine is Benzoin tincture. It comes in small capsules for individual uses. You break it, much like a glow stick, so the tincture flows through to the applicator tip. The best component is that it provides a sticky layer, excellent for helping keep bandages stuck to the skin.
Use your alcohol wipes for disinfecting things like tweezers, scissors, and even your hands before treating a wound if you are gloveless. (Alcohol wipes can be useful fire starts as well.)
Let’s also bring in hydrogen peroxide. Though not found in any medical kit I have ever seen, it is a common tool to use at home for cleaning cuts and scrapes.
Commonly, the fizzing makes us think hydrogen peroxide is effective. While it is acceptable to irrigate a wound with, it does not provide much in way of killing bacteria. Iodine is a much better disinfectant than hydrogen peroxide.
And remember, while antibiotic ointment is great for keeping a wound from becoming infected, it is no replacement for proper wound cleaning.
*DISCLAIMER* These picture are not my own! Thank you various contributors on Google images.