Antiseptics and prep solutions
Alcohol is a disinfectant
for INTACT skin or inanimate objects. Use it to clean gear such as splinter forceps. It
can also be used to clean skin around (not inside) a wound. Individual pads are more
practical than a bottle.
Alcohol should NOT be used inside wounds or on open wounds. When used on exposed
tissue, alcohol kills some of your tissues along with the germs. This delays healing. When
used INSIDE a wound, alcohol can actually make the wound MORE infection prone by turning
your tissue into dead "germ food."
Burn Gel is a compound
for immediate first aid of superficial burns. Placed directly on the burn, it cools the
burn as it relieves the pain. Several brands area available, in bottle or as pre-soaked
The pad can be placed directly over a smaller area of burn. A kling wrap can be placed
over the pad to hold it in place, but should be as thin as possible so evaporation can
cool the burn. (See the section on injuries for further information on bandaging of
The gel can be used to ease pain in minor partial thickness burns (first degree). Apply a
liberal coating (don't rub it in). Allow the gel to remain as long as possible so the
medicine can penetrate and evaporation can cool the burn. (Some burns should be managed by
your doctor. Refer to the "Injuries" section.)
Betadine is a
"tamed" iodine solution. The generic name is povodine-iodine. This solution is
an excellent germ killer, yet it's gentle to your tissues. Clean wounds with betadine to
reduce the risk of infection.
|Betadine can be used directly in the wound as part of cleaning and
irrigation. It can be placed on a gauze pad, or squirted into the wound before gently
washing. You can leave Betadine on the wound while seeking medical attention. Just place a
dressing over top.
Pads are more practical than a bottle for the "mobile"
first aid kit.
Uses of Betadine include:
1. cleaning agent for abrasions
2. de-germing agent for superficial burns
3. antiseptic for cleaning lacerations
Benzoin is a medical
adhesive for the skin. It's similar to the glue actors use for fake beards and mustaches.
It's available in bottle form, but it makes more sense to buy individually packaged
benzoin swabs for your first aid kit.
Sample uses of Benzoin include:
1. skin preparation for steri-strip closure of a laceration
2. skin preparation for butterfly closure of a cut
3. "stickum" to keep a kling wrap from shifting
A thin coating of benzoin is applied to the skin, then allowed to dry completely. (Thicker
coatings don't stick as well as a thin coat.) It's important that the benzoin dry
completely before applying the steri-strip or butterfly dressing.
Eye wash is a sterile
isotonic solution that's used for irrigation. It is not a germ-killer, but can be used to
flush germs, chemicals, and debris from the eye.
Obviously, the solution can be used to wash chemicals from the eye, or to squirt
foreign particles out of the eye. (Chemical exposures should be irrigated for at least 20
minutes -- the eyewash just gets things started while you arrange emergency medical care.)
Another use of eye wash solution is irrigation of lacerations and "squirt
gun" cleaning of open wounds such as dirty abrasions.
||Hand sanitizer gel
sanitizer gel uses alcohol to reduce the bacteria on your skin while rendering first aid.
This makes infection less likely. It comes in bottles that look a lot like clear hand
Alcohol is a disinfectant for INTACT skin or inanimate objects. This gel should NOT be
used inside wounds or on open wounds. When used on exposed tissue, alcohol kills some of
your tissues along with the germs. This delays healing. When used INSIDE a wound, alcohol
can actually make the wound MORE infection prone by turning your tissue into dead
||Insect Sting Relief pads
Sting Relief pads contain alcohol and benzocaine. Benzocaine is a topical anesthetic. The
pads can relieve the pain of a fresh insect sting.
These pads are also wonderful for stinging nettle!
If a stinger is present (honey bee sting), remove it. The stinger should be removed by
scraping gently (see the section on beesting). Next wipe the
sting area with the medicated pad.
inhalant is available in pads or ampules. A sniff of ammonia can prevent fainting, or can
rouse a fainting victim. It's helpful for "simple faint" -- such as fainting at
the sight of blood or fainting from pain.
When someone feels faint, the first step is to make the victim lie down. If the
symptoms don't resolve promptly, try an ammonia inhalant pad.
Ammonia isn't useful for faintness due to hypoglycemia, hemorrhage, heart rhythm problems,
stroke, or other serious medical conditions.
To use the ammonia inhalant pad, tear off a corner and wave it under the victim's nose. To
use an ampule, remove the ampule from its bag or box and break it by holding both ends
with your thumbs in the middle and pushing your thumbs away while pulling back with your
Chloride is a mild antiseptic. If comes as pre-packed towelettes, as a spray, and in
squirt-bottles. It's probably the most common antiseptic in over-the-counter first aid
preparations. A common brand is Bactine, which (mercifully) also includes benzocaine, a
||The towelette form is handy for your biking backpack. The
be used to clean minor scrapes and burns. It can be an emergency scrubber if you've
contacted poison ivy.
this ointment to cover open wounds prior to dressing them. This reduces infection risk and
promotes faster healing. It also keeps dressings from sticking to the wound. The most
common brand of triple-antibiotic ointment is Neosporin.
On abrasions or burns of the face or neck, antibiotic ointment is often used as the
sole dressing. Apply a liberal coating several times a day.
Some people are allergic to the neomycin part of triple-antibiotic ointment. Rash or small
blisters can erupt. Substitute another type of antibiotic ointment.
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