Our mom used to clean the cuts, put on some Mercurochrome, apply a Band-Aid and send us on our way.
Of course this was always accompanied by a hug and a kiss.
I’m now certain that mom’s love and attention had much more to do with the healing than the Mercurochrome. Alas, Mercurochrome is pretty worthless as an antiseptic. The only thing I can say in its favor is that it has a pretty color and it doesn’t sting.
However, a lot of things people put on wounds are even worse. Not only are they ineffective, they can actually be harmful.
Back in the 50s, the other common antiseptic for cuts and scrapes was iodine. Iodine is certainly an effective antiseptic but it stings like the dickens. Plus, it’s actually a little harsh to put directly in an open wound.
These days a lot of people use Neosporin ointment. Not a good idea.
The active ingredient in Neosporin ointment is the antibiotic neomycin. Neomycin is in the category of antibiotics known as aminoglycosides.
There are a couple things wrong with using an antibiotic in a wound.
For one thing, topical antibiotics aren’t especially effective. They don’t work very well for preventing infection in a wound.
Another reason: we should use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary and when no other good alternative exists. I’m sure that by now you’re aware of the increasing incidence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Overuse of antibiotics is a leading cause.
Yet another reason to stay away from Neosporin is the fact that it has a very high incidence of allergic reaction. Somewhere around 10% of people will develop sensitivity after a few days of use. That rate goes up even higher as people get older.
Here’s a Natural Alternative to Treat a Minor Cut
So if you’re not going to use Neosporin what should you use?
I’m glad you asked. There are a couple of natural remedies that are extremely effective. The one we use most frequently in our home today is medical honey.
Medical honey is honey produced by bees that have foraged on Manuka (also known as tea tree) shrubs.
Medical honey is marketed under the brand name Medihoney in the United States. You can find it in most pharmacies.
You can also find Manuka honey in a health food store. The downside of that honey is it may not have been handled as carefully in production as medical grade honey.
Whether or not to use it is your call. I will say that I’ve used honey from the health food store on myself and my family without any problems.
The only thing you might want to be careful about is using honey on someone who has a history of allergy to bees. Although the risk of a serious reaction is extremely low, it’s best to be on the safe side.
So for minor cuts and scrapes skip the Neosporin. Clean the wound well with plain tap water, Pat it dry with a clean towel, then apply some honey and a bandage.
And if it’s for someone in your family, remember the hug and a kiss.
There are other natural options I write about elsewhere that you can check out.
And here are a couple of references if you’re interested:
Mandal MD, Mandal S. Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 2011;1(2):154-160. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60016-6.
Maddocks SE1, Jenkins RE Honey: a sweet solution to the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance? Future Microbiol. 2013 Nov;8(11):1419-29. doi: 10.2217/fmb.13.105