Disinfecting Wounds: Iodine vs. Alcohol

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

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Iodine tincture

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Providone-Iodine

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.)

 

 

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Benzoin tinctures

 

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Applying Benzoin tincture

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.

 

 

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Alcohol wipes

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.

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