Antiseptics and antibiotic ointments, the inseparable medicines in our lives, are generally thought to be more effective when applied a lot and often. Is this the correct way to use them?
■Antiseptics… apply wider than a wound
Types of antiseptics are various, including povidone-iodine solution, chlorhexidine, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. The point is to apply it wider than the range of a wound.
“Antiseptics are for preventing skin microbiota around the wound from infecting the wound,” Prof. Park Ji Hye of the dermatology department of the Samsung Medical Center commented, adding, “You need to apply as if drawing a large circle outward from the wound to prevent the skin microbiota. However, since infants are at a high risk of the povidone-iodine solution being absorbed all over the body, do not apply wide for them. It is vital to choose an antiseptic depending on age and area of a wound.”
After antiseptic is dried enough, put on a bandage for protection. If sores ooze or produce pus, use foam dressings, but if a wound is a light scratch or abrasion, use gauze or wet dressings.
■Antibiotic ointments… a little bit is enough
Antibiotic ointments for wounds have various types, but Fucidin and Madecassol are most commonly used. These two ointments prevent microbiosis and add moisture, helping with wound recovery.
“Only about 1% of antibiotic ointments are absorbed, and so the more you apply doesn’t mean more effects,” Professor Park Ji Hye said, “Applying antibiotic ointments for common wounds lightly like a thin film is enough.”
■Steroid ointments… must consult with a specialist
Steroid ointments are beneficial for anti-inflammation and inhibiting cell proliferation and immunity. From inflammation to allergy and skin diseases, they are used for different purposes; however, it’s necessary to consult with a specialist since method and period of use depend on whether the disease is chronic like atopy or temporary like bug bites.
“In particular, patients with atopy avoid using steroid ointments due to side effects of skin becoming thinner and blood vessels expanding, but this happens when used recklessly,” Chief professor Cho Sanghyun (president of the Korean Atopic Dermatitis Association) of the dermatology department of the Catholic University of Korea, Incheon St. Mary’s Hospital explained, emphasizing, “Applying an adequate amount of steroid ointments according to your skin condition after consulting with a specialist can help safely care for your skin.”