Antiseptics are a group of medicines that arrest or halt the growth of germs and aid in the prevention of infections in minor cuts, scrapes and burns. Antiseptics do not actually kill bacteria. Antiseptics are often included in first aid kits, but the rule of thumb that applies to their use is, only if there's nothing else.
Antiseptics include hydrogen peroxide, iodine, isopropyl (or rubbing) alcohol, methyl salicylate, phenol, and thymol. If you are going to use any of these, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist how to apply them properly. Do not use antiseptics for any extended length of time.
A wide variety of medical sources caution against the overuse of antiseptics, as these can interfere with the healing process of wounds. Medical and first aid specialists recommend you clean the wound thoroughly with water then apply an antibiotic ointment. Antibiotic ointments will actually kill the bacteria that may infect the wound.
Using antiseptics like hydrogen peroxide, iodine or rubbing alcohol is more appropriate for the area around the wound, but not on or in the wound.
If you are going to use antiseptics, use them only for small cuts and scrapes. Antiseptics also should not be used to treat large wounds, deep cuts, puncture wounds, eye injuries, sunburn, other significant burns, animal bites, gritty wounds or pre-existing infections.
Side effects of antiseptics
Hydrogen peroxide can damage skin and mucus membranes. It can also lead to infection, instead of preventing it.