Hydrogen Peroxide Abuse
Hydrogen peroxide has been touted as the miracle chemical of the century. Its uses include water purification, bleaching of commercial products, and use as a cleaning agent. However, when it comes to its medicinal uses, it has a long history of being abused and misused.
When you pour hydrogen peroxide onto wounded tissue, the wound immediately starts to bubble, a process that is followed by an intense pain. People used to think that this meant the antiseptic properties of hydrogen peroxide were kicking in. Scientists now know that this is actually an indication that healthy tissue is dying.
In fact, physicians of the past are part of the misconception problem. Decades ago, physicians were trained that the antiseptic quality of hydrogen peroxide was useful in cleaning open wounds and preventing wound infections. It is a common chemical found in most emergency departments. Recent studies, on the other hand, have shown that hydrogen peroxide actually impedes wound healing.
When hydrogen peroxide is applied to the wound, it combines with a natural chemical in human tissue. This combination generates oxygen and water. The concentrated amount of oxygen that is generated can kill off any bacteria that may be contaminating the wound, but it also kills healthy tissue in the body at the same time. The type of killing that is done by the concentrated oxygen is toxic to the human body. It kills anything alive indiscriminately, whether it's bacteria or healthy human cells. When the body is trying to repair the wound by sending in a microscopic repair crew, these cells can fall victim to the random killing by hydrogen peroxide.
To prevent wound infection, there are many more precise ways to kill the bacteria without hurting the healthy tissues in the body. Antibiotics are the best way to ward off infection, and they are more commonly used today than in the past.
Bring Out the Dead
Along with its role in infection prevention, hydrogen peroxide has historically been used to get rid of dead tissue in a bad open wound. This has also been proven ineffective, and the majority of medical professionals have halted this practice.
Previously, there was similar concern about the use of iodine in wound cleansing and tissue damage. Extensive research in the 1990s showed that even though iodine compounds do not have the same deleterious effect on healing as hydrogen peroxide, they do not promote healing. In some cases, they can slightly hamper healing. The current recommendation is that they are safe for short-term wound care, but chronic application should be avoided.
Instead of using hydrogen peroxide, most doctors use a sterile salt water to clean the wound. This salt water is often drawn into a syringe and squirted into the wound to clean out any debris trapped inside the wound. Your child may need to be sedated or given pain medication prior to such treatment.