Earlier this year I mentioned hydrogen peroxide and iodine, but I wanted to expand upon antiseptics altogether. Among your medical supplies you must have sufficient quantities of an antiseptic. An antiseptic is a substance that inhibits the growth and development of microorganisms. They’re topical agents, meaning you apply them to skin or mucous membranes, such as the nasal interior.
There are several different types of antiseptics.
Benzalkonium chloride and hexachlorophine are used primarily as hand scrubs or face washes. Benzalkonium also can act as a disinfecting agent for instruments, such as knives.
Chlorhexidine has a high margin of safety when applied to mucous membranes and has been used in oral rinses and preoperative body washes.
Hydrogen peroxide utilizes oxygen gas. Although its antibacterial activity is relatively weak, the liberation of oxygen bubbles produces an effervescent action, which is useful for wound cleansing through the removal of tissue debris. The activity of hydrogen peroxide may be reduced by the presence of blood and pus. The standard concentration of hydrogen peroxide for antiseptic use is 3%, although higher concentrations are available.
Iodine includes tincture of iodine and povidone iodine compounds. Iodine has the broadest spectrum of topical antiseptics; they’re effective against bacteria, fungi, viruses, spores, protozoa and yeasts. Iodine tincture is highly effective, but its alcoholic component is drying and extremely irritating when applied to skin that’s been scraped or rubbed. Povidone iodine is less irritating and less toxic, but not as effective. Povidone iodine also has been used for hand scrubs and disinfection of surgical sites.
Thimerosol (or Mersol) is a mercury-based compound that’s effective against bacteria and yeasts. Prolonged use may result in mercury toxicity.
With chaos surrounding you and the possibility of dead bodies piling up in your neighborhood, deadly microbes will have free reign. And, I’m not talking about those that cause body odor or gingivitis; although those are bad enough. Antiseptics will help you deal with the annoyance of cuts and scrapes your hands and arms could get from carving up fish, gathering firewood, or digging holes to bury the bodies of neighbors who whine too loud about not having prepared for the apocalypse.