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Best disinfectant for cuts in the out doors?

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by NeedItCheaper, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. NeedItCheaper


    Jun 17, 2012
    I was talking to my doctor about how to let cuts and scraps heal and he is a firm believer that band aids and neosporin is more detrimental than helpful. He recommended just cleaning it with alcohol and letting it dry out and heal with nothing over it. And if it is too big to not cover, then a basic guaze pad over it that breaths really well, and that is only to keep dirt out.

    My question is, since he wasn't sure. Do they make spray bottles of alcohol for wounds? Does anyone have anything better they would use? I'm really looking for compact solutions here. Running clean water over it, using tons of bandages, and a giant bottle of rubbing alcohol is not really an option if I'm out in the bush.
  2. Nullity


    Jul 28, 2002
    You could buy the spray bottle and alcohol separately.

    I carry a little portable Neosporin spray bottle myself.
  3. mtangent


    Dec 6, 2011
    I use a dropper bottle of iodine. Very compact. Suitable for all wounds. Alcohol isn't suitable for burns or large deep wounds.
    Band aids are for keeping dirt & flies off. Take them off to let the wound dry. A guaze pad will protect the wound, & is a one size fits all solution. But if blood seeps through, as it tends to, it will still attract a lot of flies. You can counteract this by using wide tape.

    Some of the modern bandaids are breatheable & waterproof. These actually work well.
  4. averageiowaguy


    Mar 22, 2011
    One of these days I need to do a video on wound care in the woods. Once you've broken the skin, there is no such thing as a sterile wound, even in surgery. There are bacteria and other organisms on your skin even after we've "prepped" it with betadine, alcohol scrub, chlorhexidine etc. But even though we never get a completely sterile wound, the wound infection rate for a "clean" wound in surgery is only 1-4%. It can be even less depending on the type of surgery and the body part operated on. I have a zero percent infection rate with surgery on the face after 5 years of doing so.

    In the woods, you're dealing with a contaminated wound. The thing to do is stop the bleeding with direct pressure and then wash the wound with water that you would drink. If you can drink the water, you can wash a contaminated wound out with it. Get all of the dirt and other debris out of the wound. If it starts bleeding again, hold pressure. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

    Bandage requirements are much too complex for me to get into in a short post, but suffice it to say that the bandage will vary based on the wound itself and the environment you're in. Using no bandage at all is acceptable depending on the wound itself and the environment you're working in.

    If you want to put something on the cut, put vaseline on it, unless you're allergic. Do this ONLY AFTER the wound has been cleaned.
  5. taldesta

    taldesta Location: Retired :-) Muskoka, Ontario, Canada Platinum Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    2nding mtangent in product and container, iodine is my choice. For children or pets, non stinging hydrogen peroxide might be easier to 'catch and apply' :)

    Fabric backed, breathable bandaids are flexible, comfortable and strong ... allowing you to continue in the rough work without re-opening (ouch) and contaminating the wound. So light and compact that removing for airflow as wanted and replacing fresh is simple.

    My experience with neosporin is that it seems to help and speed the healing process in minor wounds that will not need to be covered for long. Again, non stinging.

    So, air flow may be optimal but with consideration for the need for protection of the wound as you go about your activities in the out of doors. This is just my sense of it through experience, but I am interested in this topic and am open to more information. There are lots of members with far more knowledge than I have.
  6. taldesta

    taldesta Location: Retired :-) Muskoka, Ontario, Canada Platinum Member

    Jan 24, 2013
    Simultaneous post ... and great information averageiowaguy. :thumbup:
  7. averageiowaguy


    Mar 22, 2011
    The problem with neosporin is that 20% of the population will have an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients. When they have the allergic reaction it looks for all the world like a wound infection, which confuses the picture when you finally get real medical attention. I warn my patients against using neosporin on incisions or other wounds. If they absolutely insist on putting an antibacterial product on the wound, bacitracin ointment is what I recommend. If they will listen, some do, some don't, I would have them use just plain old vaseline unless there is a definite infection, in which case, topicals don't do as much as I'd like and they are likely either going to get the wound opened and cleaned or they are going to go on oral antibiotics, depending on the circumstances and the wound itself.

    Protocols for dealing with wounds have been established based on scientific evidence and real world experience with wounds. There is some wiggle room within the various protocols and it all requires judgement and experience, but none of this is magic. There is a lot of nonsense put out there by companies trying to sell you the latest and greatest stuff. The nonsense is loud enough that it overwhelms the public consciousness and becomes accepted as fact, even though it isn't. Mostly the effect on the populace is benign, because all they are buying is snake oil that won't hurt or help them.

    If you are interested, take a course from an accredited organization like the Wilderness Medical Society or other sources. Make sure that they offer category 1 CME. It isn't easy to be able to offer that unless you are the real deal. A lot of guys are teaching the backwoods version of it at their survival courses. That and $2.10 will get you a cup of coffee.
  8. Greenmarauder


    Sep 16, 2012
    Clean it out with Dakin's solution, then glue it back together with super glue.
  9. Joe Real

    Joe Real

    Apr 4, 2006
    For a time I was absolutely sure that tincture of iodine was my mother's way of punishment for me getting hurt or destroying so many pants knees.
    The good old times....
  10. kvaughn

    kvaughn Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    My grandmother called iodine "monkey blood" and bought it by the 1/2 gal :D if my 60 yr old memory serves me.She seemed to have plenty for all the neighborhood kids--KV
  11. Joe Real

    Joe Real

    Apr 4, 2006
    For a time I was absolutely sure that tincture of iodine was my mother's way of punishment for me getting hurt or destroying so many pants knees.
    The good old times....
  12. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    In a pinch?

    Urine - I know - it sounds nasty.

    Honey and juice from many citrus fruits (Lemon - Pineapple) will work. Tea Tree oil in a small bottle works.

    I carry a small plastic bottle of Iodine. It can be used to disinfect water and wounds.

  13. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    Honey. Works great, and very cheap. What one poster said about many people being allergic to Neosporin is exactly what my doctor told me as well.
  14. folder geek

    folder geek Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 28, 2012
    Been a ER nurse for over 8 yrs now and certified in Outdoor Emergency Care for 12+ yrs. The best recommendation I have for simple abrasions and superficial lacerations(which I assume you are asking about) is to initially clean it really well with soap and water then cover it with a Band-Aid, preferably a fabric one that is breathable. Make sure to keep the wound clean and dry for the next 48-72 hours because that is when an infection is most likely to occur. Neosporin after the first cleaning is okay but I do not recommend it for long term use on a wound because it creates a moist environment which doesn't let the wound dry out and scab over as easily. I could go on and on about different situations and conditions but this covers the basics for most minor wounds. Obviously for major lacerations or signs of infection you'll probably want to follow up with a MD.
  15. averageiowaguy


    Mar 22, 2011
    There is some good information in this thread. There is also some very very bad information in this thread. Reader beware.
  16. aarya


    Jun 21, 2006
    I don't know about using it on a fresh wound, but i've successfully taken care of smaller infections with chewed up sage-leaves placed on area, then bandaged with band-aid. Make sure you've got a decently clean mouth, rinse and gargle with water if necessary, and chew up four or so sage leaves, fresh or dry, into a sort of poultice, then dab on the area. Then i leave it for three-four days, replacing as necessary. It'll dry into a hard crust, and draw out all the nasties. Plus it's antibacterial and antibiotic.
    Again, i should stress that this is something i've experienced, your experience may be completely different.

    Also, to the original question, best disinfectant for cuts in the outdoors, is a closed relatively clean wound. If you cut yourself and it's not too deep, CLOSE IT. Keep pressure on it for a long time.
    The longer a wound is open, logically, the greater risk there is for an infection.

    (Sorry for my rant.)
  17. storyville


    Aug 11, 1999
    This is called *BLADE* FORUMS, wussies. What's wrong with you? I just heat my knife in the fire, then apply it to the wound.


    If that doesn't work, I'd go with Averageiowaguy's advice, 3:03 am and 5:43 am EST. :)
  18. fishiker


    Nov 5, 2006
    I have NO medical training beyond first-aid training at work but I have treated a few nasty wounds with hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin that healed up very well.
  19. K Fritz

    K Fritz

    Sep 8, 2013
    Eye drop bottle with h2o2 n liquid bandaid
  20. NeedItCheaper


    Jun 17, 2012
    I like the pee idea, First I will mix it up with a fat guys arm pit hair, two finger nail clippings of a gypsy, and my Uncle Jacks belly button lint. Now that's magic.

    Thanks all. Iodine looks good to me right now. What brands do you like? What negative effects do you see?

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