What are Antiseptic Wipes?
Wipes are a convenient way of sterilizing the skin. Antiseptic wipes are a single use item that sanitizes skin without risk of cross contamination, unlike an entire bottle of potentially messy liquids. Each wipe is individually packaged making them easy to carry in a pocket, purse or inside even small first aid kits.
What are Antiseptic Wipes used for?
Antiseptic Wipes have a wide variety of uses. The short answer is, they are used for sterilizing. Antiseptic wipes kill germs and sanitize skin or whatever surface to which they are applied. Antiseptic wipes can be used to clean wounds, help perform a sterile catheter procedure, and prepare skin for surgery. They are a mainstay of home first aid kits and hospitals. It is always important to consult a medical professional, preferably your personal doctor or nurse, if you have any questions about your specific wound or wound care.
What are the Differences Between the Common Antiseptic Wipes?
Benzalkonium Chloride wipes also known as, towelettes, are used as a skin disinfectant. They are ideal for cleansing a wound. Effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. They are often used to prep the skin around the urethra before using a catheter. The benefits of BZK wipes are numerous, but two benefits are especially helpful for catheter users, BZK tends to not dry out the skin like alcohol wipes and it isn't as messy as Povidone Iodine. This makes BZK an ideal wipe for Foley catheters
and Intermittent catheters
since it is easier on the sensitive and tender skin associated with catheter use.
Alcohol wipes or prep pads are used for cleaning around a wound. They should not be used directly on an open wound as alcohol can cause damage to the wound bed. Alcohol applied directly on an open wound can delay or even prevent healing. Alcohol pads can be used to prep unbroken skin. They are also great for disinfecting medical instruments like bandage scissors
or stick thermometers
. I don't think a First Aid kit
is complete without alcohol prep pads but I am more likely to use it on things instead of people. For a non-medical use, alcohol pads can be useful in removing ink from fabric and because they are flammable, you can use them to help start a fire in an emergency.
Povidone-Iodine Prep Pads are an antiseptic (cleansing and sterilizing agent) and topical antibiotic. Povidone-Iodine is effective and painless which means it doesn't hurt when applied to an open wound. However, it can be messy. This makes it a difficult product for catheter users. Using a catheter in a public restroom is difficult enough without adding a messy antiseptic wipe to the situation. Betadine Povidone-Iodine
is also sold by the bottle and can be diluted with water for when you need to wash out a wound. Be aware that some people are allergic to iodine so always check with the person before using it on them. Povidone-Iodine is not meant to be used on severe burns or puncture wounds.