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Good Health and Bad Medicine:
 First Aid - Part 1

 First Aid - Part 2

 First Aid - Part 3

 First Aid - Part 4

 First Aid - Part 5

 First Aid - Part 6

 Medicine Cabinet


 Pain - Part 2

 Liniments, Rubbing Salves And Plasters

 Read More Articles About: Good Health and Bad Medicine

First Aid - Part 3

( Originally Published 1940 )


Tincture of Merphenyl Borate 1:5oo (The Hamilton Laboratories, Hamilton, Ohio). Usually marketed untinted, but may be obtained with a dye to stain the area of application. If the tincture is irritating, it may be diluted with one or two parts of water.

Tincture of Metaphen I:200 (Abbott Laboratories). Tincture of Merthiolate 1:1000 (Eli Lilly Sc Co.).

Mercresin Tincture (The Upjohn Co.).

Mild Tincture of Iodine, U.S.P. An alcoholic solution of iodine 2%. This is probably the best all-round antiseptic for home use. It is cheaper than others. Do not use the full strength 7% tincture—it may cause burns.

Alcohol 70% by weight (about 8o% by volume) is not dependable for disinfection of a contaminated wound, but it is useful for cleansing the skin and for the treatment of the numerous minute cuts produced in shaving and the like. Rubbing alcohol (denatured alcohol) is cheaper than pure ethyl alcohol and as effective for ordinary purposes. (Do not buy a 70 proof alcohol—it is actually 35% by volume.)


The following are satisfactory disinfectants in watery solutions. They cause little or no pain when applied:

Merphenyl Nitrate Solution z:1500 (Hamilton Laboratories, Hamilton, Ohio). Stainless.

Metaphen Solution 1:500. Stainless.

Merthiolate Solution 1:1000. Stainless.

Mercarbolide Solution 1:1000 (The Upjohn Co.). Stainless.

Isocline (Davis Emergency Equipment Co., NYC). This product is a solution of iodine and iodide salt dissolved in water.

Compound Solution of Iodine, U.S.P. (Lugol's Solution).

The following products are Not Acceptable:

Mercurochrome: Aqueous or aqueous-alcohol-acetone solution. These solutions have had an appeal entirely out of proportion to their effectiveness because of two properties: i) The aqueous solution causes little or no pain; and 2) They impart a brilliant and lasting red color to the skin. The red color engenders a feeling of security, which is false because the antiseptic properties of Mercurochrome are relatively poor.

Hexylresorcinol Solution ST37

Absorbine Jr. Negligible antiseptic properties

Pepsodent Antiseptic


Lysol: A useful disinfectant for toilets, etc., but too toxic for use on or in body. A similar but less expensive product is Saponated Solution of Cresol, U.S.P. Never use Lysol or Saponated Solution of Cresol as a douche. Severe poisoning and death have resulted from such use.

Carbolic Acid (Phenol): Corrosive and poisonous.

Mercuric Chloride (bichloride of mercury, corrosive sublimate): Too poisonous to be kept about the house.

Silver Preparations (argyrol, protargal, silvol, neo-silvol, collargol, lunosol, silver-col, silver picrate, silver nitrate) : Should be used only under direction of a physician or dentist. Indiscriminate use leads to "argyria," a permanent bluish patchy discoloration of the skin or mucous membrane, caused by deposits of insoluble silver in the tissues.

Colorless Solutions of Iodine: These do not contain free iodine, therefore are not appreciably antiseptic.

Chlorine Preparations: Solution of sodium hypochlorite (identical with Zonite and Hyclorite), chloramine (chlorazene); dichloramine T, halozone, azochloramide. These solutions are useful for the irrigation of tissues that are already infected. They are not suitable for first aid. Repeated use of Zonite as a douche may lead to serious irritation.

Dyes (acriflavine, gentian violet, brilliant green, scarlet red, carbol fuchsin, bismuth violet). These have very specialized uses. Leave them to your physician if you wish to avoid trouble.

Oxidizing Agents (hydrogen peroxide, sodium perborate, potassium chlorate, potassium permanganate). Hydrogen peroxide is a poor antiseptic. Its slight effectiveness depends chiefly upon the mechanical cleansing action of the foam. The other oxidizing agents should be used only under medical or dental supervision. The indiscriminate use of sodium perborate (Vince) in the mouth may lead to severe irritation and a "furry" tongue.

Antiseptic Dusting Powders (e. g., Vioform). Not recommended for lay use.

Unguentine. Long promoted as a treatment for burns, now touted as a "modern" antiseptic. Not recommended for either purpose.

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