Povidone-iodine (Betadine) is a topical antiseptic I use for patients with allergies/sensitivities to chlorhexidine before invasive procedures (chest tubes, lumbar drains, central lines, etc.) in the ICU and OR settings. During emergent cardiac surgeries, sometimes all we have time for is a “Betadine splash” before performing life-saving interventions.

Betadine’s bactericidal effects are due to a release of iodine which creates an oxidative disruption of bacterial protein synthesis, cell membranes, DNA integrity, etc. It is effective against many skin pathogens (gram-positive and negative bacteria, viruses, yeasts, etc.) For clean and clean-contaminated operations, chlorhexidine (see prior post) is a better antiseptic option. Specifically, with burn care, concerns surrounding delayed healing, cytotoxicity, and multiple applications each day make Betadine a controversial choice.

Another interesting point – cleaning solutions like chlorhexidine and adhesive compounds like benzoin and Mastisol have varying amounts of alcohol, making them FLAMMABLE! On the other hand, Betadine is a water-based antiseptic devoid of alcohol and nonflammable.

Drop me a comment below with questions!

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