Do not use hydrogen peroxide on wounds

Health experts warn against using hydrogen peroxide to treat or clean minor scrapes or cuts because it can irritate the skin and kill healthy cells in the wound.

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical commonly used to clean, disinfect, and remove stains. It is also commonly used as an antiseptic to treat cuts, scrapes, or other minor skin wounds.

Several people on social media (here, here and here) claim that hydrogen peroxide should not be used to clean wounds as it can irritate the skin. VERIFY viewer Jehu asked if these claims were true.


Should you use hydrogen peroxide on wounds?



That's wrong.

No, you should not use hydrogen peroxide on wounds.


That Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinicand Houston Methodist All warn against using hydrogen peroxide to treat or clean wounds as it can irritate the skin.

“Hydrogen peroxide has fallen out of favor as a wound cleanser. Studies have shown that it is irritating to the skin. It can prevent wound healing and can do more harm than good,” said Sarah Pickering Beers, MD, family medicine resident at the Cleveland Clinic.

A blog entry on the Houston Methodist website explains that hydrogen peroxide “can kill normal cells in the wound, including healthy skin cells and immune cells, and slow blood vessel formation.”

“Hydrogen peroxide is actually detrimental to wound healing. It prevents healing rather than promoting it,” said Dr. Michael Yaakovian, Houston Methodist surgeon and wound care specialist. “When you have an open wound, you no longer have the normal skin barrier there to protect you. That exposed area of ​​tissue then becomes susceptible to infection.”

Rubbing alcohol, another product widely believed to help disinfect wounds, also indiscriminately kills cells, preventing healing, according to the Houston Methodist.

So what is the best way to properly clean a minor wound?

“A good wash with soap and lots of clean water is all you need,” Beers said.

Houston Methodist and Mayo Clinic Both share tips on caring for minor wounds like scrapes and cuts on their websites. Some of their tips are:

  • wash your hands This helps prevent infection.
  • stop the bleeding Minor cuts and scrapes will usually stop bleeding on their own. If needed, apply light pressure with a clean bandage or cloth and lift the wound until the bleeding stops.
  • Clean the wound. Rinse the wound with water. Keep the wound under running tap water to reduce the risk of infection. Wash the wound with soap. But don’t get soap in the wound. Remove any dirt or debris with tweezers cleaned with alcohol.
  • Apply an antibiotic or petroleum jelly. Vaseline or antibiotic ointments help prevent infection by covering the wound and acting as a physical barrier, but they also serve another purpose: they help keep the wound moist.
  • Cover the wound. Apply a bandage or gauze held in place with paper tape. Covering the wound keeps it clean.
  • Change the dressing. Do this at least once a day or whenever the bandage gets wet or dirty.
  • Watch for signs of infection. See a doctor if you notice signs of infection on the skin or near the wound, including redness, increasing pain, discharge, warmth, or swelling.

For larger wounds and cuts, excessive bleeding, or if debris is stuck in the wound, you should see a doctor, says Beers.

While hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t be used to clean wounds, Beers says it’s a great alternative to bleach and can be used to disinfect various things around the home, including bathtubs, sinks and showers, toilets, mirrors, refrigerators and trash cans. You can also use it to disinfect beauty and nail care tools, repair discolored nails, make mouthwash and keep your toothbrush clean.

“Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria, fungi and viruses. It can be handy if you don’t have disinfectant wipes or bleach. Just be careful not to get it on your clothes or furniture, or it may fade them,” Beers said.

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Text: 202-410-8808 Do not use hydrogen peroxide on wounds

Laura Coffey

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