This week, it’s on. Just when you thought this blog couldn’t possibly get any more esoteric or banal, I out-nerd even myself. For this week, dear NYC podiatry patients, we are going to cover the frothy, bubbly topic of – wait for it – hydrogen peroxide. I’ll wait while you put that new iPhone down.
True confession, we do use quite a bit of the old H2O2 in the office. And I have to thank (blame?) a patient for the new found curiosity. It just struck me that we don’t really know what it does or how effective it is other than the fact that it bubbles. So here it is. Hydrogen peroxide is actually quite a volatile substance. Think of those large rockets that propelled the Space Shuttle and various other transports into space, and remember that they were filled primarily with hydrogen peroxide. The early synthesis of the stuff happened somewhere in the mid-1800’s and there are surprisingly few documented mishaps, although there are some. The primary use is as a bleaching agent for pulp and paper, as well as hair, and for other industrial and chemical means. The commercially available solution is a diluted version of the more pure industrial chemical, at typically 3-6%. The chemical structure is such that as the solution reacts with catalase in wounds, water and oxygen are released, hence the bubbling. It is this effervescence that may be the essence of the cleansing power as it is violent enough to dislodge mucus, blood and bacteria, but it does not penetrate deep into the tissues and thus works best on open wounds.
So the big question remains- is it a good disinfectant, or was Mom pulling the wool over our eyes once again. The answer is – it’s not great. It’s hard to say because there is so much conflicting literature, but it seems that it’s a pretty good cleaning agent for open wounds and cuts, but not great as a disinfectant, which is what I suspected. It will effectively help to clean an open wound, remove any fluids and other gnarly objects, but it’s not going to kill a whole lot of bugs. But let’s not discount the benefits of a clean wound, as the body then has the ability to do what it knows to do, which is to heal.
There you have it, my dear NYC podiatry patients. Entering the doldrums of Autumn with the doldrums of blogs. Keep reading next week for more thrilling party talk.
See you in the office.