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Betadine shelf life?

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by Bodyhammer, Jun 8, 2003.

  1. Bodyhammer


    Oct 10, 2001
    I have a recently purchased bottle of betadine with no expiration date (no way of knowing how long it sat in a warehouse, or how long after that it sat on the store shelf) and I have some individual swabs that claim to have expired in November 2002.

    The date stamped on the swab wrappers and the lack of date on the bottle got me to wondering, what is the shelf life of povidone iodine? How long would you trust it for its antimicrobial properties beyond this listed "safety" threshold? Is there any way of determining when (if) a batch has expired beyond usefulness? What facilitates betadine's breakdown?
  2. DaveH


    Dec 2, 1999
    The big bottles of the stuff are in a dark plastic so I imagine light and heat play a role in degradation.

    Packets are prone to abarsions and small scrapes so I imagine the expiration has something to do with that.
  3. Drifter62791


    Oct 30, 2002
    Most pharmaceuticals expire with in 1 yr of manufacture depending on if you have opened it you could extend this 6months. This was told to me by a pharmacist friend of mine when I asked him the same question.


    May 21, 2003
    Betadine Solution and Betadine Surgical Scrub have expiration periods of three years under conditions of normal use. LINK

    Betadine wipes can dry out over the years even if the packets remain sealed. I went through my first aid kits a while back. I noticed my betadine wipes were expired. Before I tossed them, I opened a couple up and they were dry :( Good thing I went through the kits before I needed them.

    I replaced the wipes with bottles. FWIW I also keep a list of the contents of each kit in the kit. The list includes the expiration dates of any items that have them.
  5. Donald


    Jan 20, 1999
    Good Link, thanks!
  6. Bodyhammer


    Oct 10, 2001
    I had posted this same question at the same time in the "REMOTE, AUSTERE, WILDERNESS & THIRD WORLD MEDICINE" forum, where Reasonable Rascal provided this additional information:

  7. swede79


    Jan 30, 2001
    I bought a pint of Betadine at Walgreens earlier this year, and the exp date stamped on the bottom is 05/05, so I have 2 more years. 3 years sounds about right if it has been sitting on the shelf for a while.

    What do you use for storing it for camping, hiking, etc? I can't see carrying a jug of this with me....

    Also, is the generic just as good? The ingredient list was slightly different.
  8. Bodyhammer


    Oct 10, 2001
    I bought a box of 100 individually-wrapped swabs at a medical supply store for $10, and I keep some of those in the first aid kit that's always with me. I keep the bottle at home in my bigger kit, but personally I would consider making a larger kit and include the bottle for camping.

    I should think so. The important ingredient is the active ingredient, povidone iodine. Beyond that you're paying for the brand name.
  9. etp777


    Aug 12, 2002
    For camping I prefer the swabs, the individual wipes, or the little bottles, think they're 4oz or so. Have thme all, and used them all at various times.
  10. beezaur


    Jul 31, 2002
    Some people, like me are allergic to betadine. I carry chlorhexidine instead. It is available at most farm supply stores.

    Be sure to ask for allergies if you fix up someone else, even for a cut on the finger. Watch for a shocky reaction, too. I found out I was allergic while fixing up my finger. I nearly passed out from shock.



    May 21, 2003
    What about Polar Pure

    Some people recommend using it for first aid purposes. LINK

    Polar Pure would be a nice kit item if it will double as water treatment and disinfectant.
  12. beezaur


    Jul 31, 2002
    Being iodine based, I think Polar Pure would cause reactions in those who react to betadine. Anyway, there are people who are allergic to iodine too. Down the hatch is one thing, in a wound is another.

    Realistically, there is a limited set of situations in which chemically disinfecting a wound will carry significant benefits. We have probably all had cuts that developed nasty infections, and don't want that if we can avoid it. Would I dump Betadine in my own cut and risk 30 minutes of light-headedness to prevent a nasty infection? Sure, but only with a very dilute dose.

    But if we are talking major wounds, you can do more damage with the chemicals than one can reasonably expect from infection. You can kill someone by pouring one of several disinfectants in a major wound, even if they are not allergic.

    You have to think about evacuation time too. Unless there is a multi-day trip involved, I personally would argue against much chemical intervention - maybe just clean the wound with water treated as for drinking. The best thing for the patient is usually getting them to a doctor who can put in stitches and prescribe antibiotics (you can kill people with those too).

    There have even been people develop severe allergic, i.e., life threatening, reactions to chlorhex impregnated catheters. You just have to be really careful when you are using chemicals that can enter the blood. More first aid is not always better.

  13. Naro


    May 3, 2001
    There is a lot of hype about the idea of disinfecting wounds. Many "make do" or "might help" approaches in fact retard healing and may increase infection risk. Alcohol (in any form) is a good example.

    As I read the current thinking on wilderness medicine, the recommendation is to (if possible)irrigate well with clean (drinkable) water (perhaps Polar Pure is useful there). Then bandage with clean (or better..sterile) bandages like 4x4s. Don't even suture or try to close wounds beyond this.If you have provodine-iodine solution (not scrub..solution), fine. But don't worry so much about it.

    There's a difference between clean field expedient treatment of wounds, and aseptic surgical treatment.
  14. etp777


    Aug 12, 2002
    disinfectants such as rubbing alcohol, peroxide, betadine and others are not really meant for internal use. As Naro said, a larger wound should be irrigated, my choice is for sterile water or a good sterile saline solution I would be iffy on useing polar pure treated water unless you had to, again, because the iodine is not meant for internal treatment.

    The purpose for things such as betadine is to disinfect around the wound to keep any infections agents from the surrounding skin from getting into the wound and causing an infection. Even if you claim that you're clean, humans have a breed of staph virus that resides on their skin, plus there are all kinds of things you can pick up in the outdoors.

    So large wounds, irrigate with clean/sterile water, then use your betadine, rubbing alcohol(or some people even use bleach), to disinfect/clean around the wound.

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