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Can I Use Peroxide and Alcohol on My Incision?

Question & Answer: Caring For Your Incision


Updated June 30, 2014

scalpel image

scalpel image

Photo: © Harrison Eastwood/Getty Images

Question: I had surgery a few days ago and my incision doesn’t look as clean as I would like. My friend said I shouldn’t use peroxide or alcohol on the incision. Is she right?


For the first few weeks of the healing process you should use normal soap and water to clean your incision gently. You should not scrub the incision, and you should not use any ointments, alcohol or peroxide to clean the incision unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon/doctor.

There are several reasons for this. Some ointments actually keep the wound moist, which makes a fertile environment for bacteria. Alcohol and peroxide are very drying and irritating to the skin, so it may slow your healing. In addition, there many ways to close an incision now that do not use sutures. Applications such as Dermabond and Steri-strips may fall off prematurely if exposed to alcohol, peroxide or scrubbing.

In addition to peroxide and alcohol, body lotions and powders should also be avoided in the area of your incision.

More Surgery Information: All About Incision Care


Dry Skin. National Institutes of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003250.htm


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