First aid - Can Purell replace rubbing alcohol?

First aid for minor cuts, scratches, abrasions or bug bites usually involved cotton balls and a bottle of 70% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol.

Is it ok to squirt Purell onto the wound instead?

Is there any reason to buy Isopropyl rubbing alcohol anymore? Purell is a gelled version of ethyl alcohol. The generic hand sanitizers are Isopropyl. Is that the same solution?

Ethyl and isopropyl are different alcohols, but as an antiseptic they’re prety much equivalent. Purell ought to work fine in most cases. However, I’d be careful to avoid putting large gobs of it in an open wound, since I believe alcohol can cause damage. A thin layer applied with a damp cotton ball will evaporate quickly, but a large gob will just sit there and be absorbed into the wound.

Good point. It would be better to squirt the cotton ball with Purell. Let it soak the cotton and then wipe the wound.

I’d heard before that rubbing alcohol shouldn’t be used on deep wounds.

People, esp. elderly and small children, can get alcohol poisoning from absorbing Purell through their skin. One case I remember had a daycare where they were getting Purelled about 40 times a day, and half the daycare ended up in the hospital.

If you use it on wounds, rinse it clean with water immediately afterwards.

(you’re supposed to do that anyway, as Purell/alcohol only kills the germs, and then you’ve got lots of dead germs along with really clean dirt hanging about on your skin/open wound.)

ETA - if you’re really worried about portability, go to a pharmacy and get those little sealed alcohol swab packets. They keep just fine, and work better than a cotton ball anyway.

Note that Purell is at least usually scented as well; the perfume, while probably harmless, might make the process somewhat more painful. And as I think about it now, they’ve often also got some sort of moisturizer in them to keep from drying out your hands. I’d stick with rubbing alcohol, myself.

I’ve actually used sanitizer for first aid purposes since I didn’t have anything else to hand. It didn’t seem to do any harm, however it stung like mad.

Actually, neither is very good. Neither is H2O2. Pure, clean water with some ordinary soap is fine if the wound needs cleaning.

Uh, cite? The main issue with kids and hand sanitizer is if they somehow ingest it, licking it off their skin or squirting the bottle into their mouth.

The Mayo Clinic recommends antibiotic ointment for the wound itself rather than a disinfectant.

Yes, this. Water (with soap if you must) followed by triple antibiotic ointment and bandaging is all that’s recommended for first aid for minor cuts and scrapes these days. Hydrogen peroxide and alcohol damage cells and tissues.

Now…in reality? I work First Aid at several festivals, and EVERYONE still uses hydrogen peroxide or alcohol (or Purell, if that’s all you have) or even providone-iodine solution on fresh cuts. Old habits die hard, especially when treating dirty hippies in a camping environment!

They are both Ok when you have nothing better for wound wash. But yes, you’re right.