Traditionally in many first aid kits, you may have found hydrogen peroxide to clean cuts or scrapes. Thinking about white bubbling on an open wound can give you flashbacks to the pain after crashing your bike as a child.
Recent studies have shown that it actually isn’t good for cleaning cuts and scrapes.
“We see a lot of damage to good tissue from hydrogen peroxide,” said Denise McMahan, wound healing nurse practitioner with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “It is a product that should be placed in under your kitchen sink as a cleanser only. Using hydrogen peroxide on a wound can actually irritate your skin and slow down the process for healing.”
Hydrogen peroxide is water with an extra oxygen molecule. The oxidation kills germs and bleaches color from porous surfaces like fabrics.
How to clean minor wounds
McMahan recommends that if you or your child has a cut or scrape it is best to clean with soap and water, then bandage appropriately.
If you have concerns about an open wound with severe bleeding, loss of mobility or an object is punctured into the skin, you should visit your nearest emergency department.
Additionally, Marshfield Clinic Health System has Care My Way®, which is available 24/7 to discuss minor injuries or illnesses. You can talk to a nurse practitioner about your symptoms and they can determine if you can be treated over the phone or recommend next steps.
When to use hydrogen peroxide
Instead of using on wounds, hydrogen peroxide could be used to clean hard surfaces in your kitchen or bathroom.
According to Centers for Disease and Prevention’s chemical disinfection methods, “commercially available 3% hydrogen peroxide is a stable and effective disinfectant when used on inanimate surfaces.” Additionally, it could be used to clean beauty products, use as mouth wash, which you do not swallow, or sanitize your tooth brush.
“It is so strong that as a mouthwash it should be diluted to one part peroxide to two parts water before use,” McMahan said.
Because of its disinfectant method, you also could use it to soak produce, then thoroughly clean with water and dry.
Furthermore, it has a bleaching effect and could be used to whiten carpets or remove certain stains on white fabrics, not color.
If you are looking for items to keep in your first aid kit, you can remove hydrogen peroxide, and keep Band-Aids of various sizes, add Vaseline to apply to larger scrapes to keep the area moist for healing and add hydrocortisone 1% for insect stings and other itchy rashes.