How do I Choose the Best Wound Cleanser?

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  • Written By: B. Schreiber
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2017
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The goal of any wound cleanser is to act as an antiseptic, killing harmful bacteria or viruses at the site of surface wounds. There are a variety of wound cleansers with different active ingredients, such as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine. While these ingredients are known to have antibacterial properties, it is difficult to assess how they perform in the real world. Commercial wipes, gels or lotions have been found to be better antibacterial choices than those derived from natural products. It is probably equally important to know how to treat wound types as it is to choose a cleanser for it.

Soap can remove bacteria and dirt from a wound, but soap that does not have antibacterial ingredients does not usually kill bacteria. Antiseptic wipes are easy to use, kill bacteria and remove dirt from around the wound. Rubbing alcohol is effective but produces unpleasant fumes, is flammable, and may irritate eyes. Hydrogen peroxide is effective but also an eye irritant. Iodine causes less stinging of the skin but should be kept away from the eyes. All are harmful if swallowed and have other side effects so always read warning labels carefully.

Bleeding is actually a natural wound cleanser that will remove some dirt or other material from minor cuts, so it is really only necessary to clean around and away from the wound, beginning at the edges. Cleaning with a series of clean cotton balls or gauze and using new ones after each pass is a good way to clean a wound with or without a cleanser.

A puncture wound is not easily improved by a wound cleanser and only the surface should be cleaned. A doctor should be consulted to see if antibiotics or possibly a tetanus shot will be needed. This is because the cause of a puncture wound, such as a nail or animal bite, penetrates the tissues and might deposit bacteria in the body. Also, puncture wounds generally bleed less than cuts where more skin is damaged.

One should not attempt to clean burns in the same way as a bleeding wound. Rather, in place of a wound cleanser, one should immerse the burned part in cold water, preferably for 10 minutes. If it is a chemical burn caused by a corrosive agent, cold water is the only wound cleanser to use and should be run until the chemical has been removed or well diluted. Do not apply an ointments or creams to any burns except for the most minor ones, like mild sunburn.

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serenesurface
Post 3

This is what I do when I need to clean a wound- if the wound doesn't have dirt and other stuff in it, then I just use iodine to disinfect it. An hour or so later, I usually apply an antibiotic ointment to keep it from getting infected.

If there is dirt in the wound, then I use hydrogen peroxide which gets all of the dirt out, followed by iodine and ointment. You can also replace the iodine with rubbing alcohol since they are both disinfectants.

candyquilt
Post 2

I've always used witch hazel because of its healing properties. I think that wounds close faster when it's cleaned with witch hazel and helps stop bleeding too.

I think what type of cleanser you use also depends on how sensitive your skin is. A lot of these cleansers can be too strong and irritate people who have really sensitive skin. I think pure cold water might be the best cleanser in that case.

If you do okay with other cleansers, then I'd suggest all natural ones. Witch hazel is all natural, that's another reason why I prefer it.

burcidi
Post 1

I think that soapy water and oxygen water are the best wound cleansers. They are mild and don't burn.

Iodine is great at killing bacteria but it stings very badly. I also had a bad experience with iodine when I was young. I fell off my bike and got a cut on my leg. I didn't want to show my mom because I thought she would get angry. So I dipped a cotton ball in iodine, placed it on the cut and taped with a band-aid. I went to bed like that and when I woke up, I had a third degree burn on top of my cut from the iodine! I still have a round scar on my leg from it.

I think that oxygen water is a much safer cleanser. Iodine is fine too if it is used under parental supervision. If you have nothing else, I think that soapy water is just fine.

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