Removing Surgical Iodine From Skin

As a skin sterilizer, sugical iodine preps an area for surgery and eliminates bacteria for the safest and best possible outcome. However, there is one major drawback to the substance: it stains your skin. And though this may seem minor, it can be a nuisance.

Why Is Surgical Iodine Used?

Surgical iodine is used primarily to prepare an area of your skin for surgery. This helps to prevent infections and poor healing following any given procedure. Topical iodine is also used to treat cuts and scrapes in an effort to prevent infection and aid healing 1.

What Iodine Does to the Skin

Iodine is a necessity in the surgical world, but it does have its drawbacks. For instance, some people suffer from a severe reaction to the substance. This can display itself as burning, itching or general irritation. This is relatively rare, however. For most people, their biggest complaint about surgical iodine is how dramatically it stains their skin. Some people are stuck for weeks with amber-colored stains on the surgical site.

How to Remove Iodine from the Skin

For the most part, iodine will wash off the skin with plain old soap and water. However, it will only do so gradually, over the course of several weeks. To speed up this process, you can use alcohol. Simply soak a cotton pad or ball in alcohol and rub it on the stained area. The stain should lift up immediately. Be careful to avoid getting the alcohol on the incision site, however, as this can cause serious stinging, burning and irritation.