Antiseptic skin cleansers are used for cleaning and sterilizing skin prior to a surgery or when treating minor wounds. Antiseptic soaps and scrubs can also be used for preoperative hand washing to prevent the transfer of germs or bacteria. Although antiseptic solutions are commonly referred to as skin disinfectants, antiseptics are used on external skin while disinfectants are used to sterilize inanimate equipment, objects and surfaces. Each type of antiseptic is formulated to perform best in certain situations.
Antiseptic cleansers are used to sterilize skin prior to a medical procedure or when cleaning a wound to prevent infection. Antiseptics are often applied to the skin before surgeries, catheter insertion, and dressing wounds. Antiseptic solutions are often classified by their active chemical ingredient, whether that be povidone-iodine, benzalkonium chloride (BZK) or an alcohol-based solution. Using a sting-free antiseptic cleanser like BZK or povidone-iodine can be less painful on cuts and scrapes than alcohol, which may be helpful when cleaning children’s wounds.
Alcohol-based antiseptic wipes and solutions, such as ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, are general-use antiseptics that are ideal in first-aid kits for treating minor wounds or scrapes. Povidone-Iodine is a long-lasting antiseptic that is commonly used as a surgical hand or wound scrub and has a distinctive brownish color. You can also find povidone-iodine swabsticks and prep pads, which are great for preparing catheterization sites because they are individually-wrapped and can be easily applied. Since some are allergic to iodine, you should always consult your personal doctor or a medical professional before using if you have concerns. BZK wipes are another popular antiseptic product with catheter users because their no-sting formula can make preparing sensitive skin more painless and they dry skin out less than alcohol.
Our antiseptic wipes guide has more information to help you learn about why BZK wipes are a kid-friendly alternative to alcohol wipes in first-aid kits and choosing the best antiseptic wipes for catheterization. This informational resource can also share the benefits and uses of different antiseptic wipes.
Disinfectant cleaners are used for sanitizing and sterilizing medical instruments, equipment and surfaces that may be contaminated with bacteria or viruses. They can be used to prevent the spread of illness or disease in offices, schools and many other places. Disinfectants are not recommended for use on skin since most are stronger than antiseptics and can cause irritation or dryness. Disinfectant wipes are an easy and convenient solution for quickly sanitizing a variety of surfaces and objects.
An adhesive skin prep can be used after sterilization to prepare the skin for an ostomy appliance and protect against irritation or shearing during removal. Skin prep wipes and sprays form a film barrier over the skin that improves adhesion while still allowing the skin to breathe. They can also be used to prepare skin for drainage tubing and external catheters.
Hand sanitizers are a simple solution for preventing the spread of illness while on-the-go or in public places. While they are great for improving hand hygiene when washing with soap and water is unavailable, hand sanitizers can be harsh on hands if used too frequently since most foaming hand sanitizers and gels are alcohol-based. If you expect to be using a hand sanitizer frequently, consider buying one that contains a moisturizer.
Betadine makes topical antiseptic scrubs, solutions and swabsticks for washing hands and sterilizing skin prior to surgery or a medical procedure. Povidone-Iodine antiseptics help reduce bacteria and microorganisms on the skin that can cause infections. A Betadine scrub is often used by surgeons and other medical professionals on the hands and forearms to prevent contaminating sterile surfaces and equipment. While some povidone-iodine products can be slightly messy, Betadine swabs come in easy-to-open packets for easy and convenient antiseptic application.
BZK wipes are used for sterilizing skin and as a sting-free method of cleaning the area around a wound. Alcohol-free BZK wipes are an ideal solution for catheter users because they do not sting or dehydrate sensitive skin and come in convenient individually-wrapped packets hat can be easily used in any situation. Some also prefer using BZK towelettes in first-aid kits because they are sting-free and less messy than povidone-iodine.
Nexcare waterproof bandages protect wounds and damaged skin from germs and can be reapplied without losing adhesion. They make a great addition to antiseptic wipes in first-aid kits because they are breathable yet retain adhesiveness when wet. Nexcare also makes several types of bandages as well as wound dressings and other skin care products.