What’s the best thing to clean a wound with?
If I had a nickel for every time I came to the barn and found a nick, scrape, scratch, cut, wound...I would have a boat load of nickels! I hope that most of the wounds you will find are superficial and can easily be treated without your Veterinarian. If you are in doubt, or you suspect a puncture wound, it’s always best to call your Veterinarian for a quick peek. You can then also get specific cleaning instructions as you either deal with it yourself, or as you wait for your Veterinarian to come out and visit.
So what’s the best way to clean the wound? You have a few choices, and a few no-no’s. Go ahead and scratch alcohol and hydrogen peroxide off the list, both of these burn (ouch) and can damage already broken tissues. Save the peroxide for getting stains out of your saddle pads. And if you even think of using bleach or other house cleaning solution...well, there are lots of four letter words that come to mind including NOOO!!!
Using a povidone iodine solution is a good idea! You may have heard of Betadine - this is a brand name of povidone iodine.
Povidone iodine will typically come in two forms - the scrub and the solution. The scrub also has detergents in it, which make it lather and create the need for total removal, so be prepared to rinse a lot. Scrubs are usually used for surgical procedures. A povidone iodine solution is ideal for wound cleaning. Solutions are a bit runny, but using a cotton gauze square or cotton ball can help you get the solution where it needs to be.
NO Chlorhexidine on face bonks!
You can also use a chlorhexidine solution, which is usually blue or in some cases pink. I love this stuff - it’s a bit lit thicker than povidone iodine, making it easier to clean a wound. It also foams a little bit. It’s easy to rinse off, too! A word of caution - don’t use chlorhexidine on the face or around the eyes - it can be damaging to vision and these soft, sensitive tissues.
Your other option is to use a normal saline or sterile water rinse. Normal saline is great for fresh wounds, not so great for super dirty or necrotic wounds. And by the way, a super dirty or necrotic wound probably needs the Veterinarian! With saline, but smaller containers as it “goes bad” a day after opening.
Does your first aid cabinet have these?
Sterile water is better than the hose or tap water, but not as good as normal saline. All of these options are usually available at your local tack shop!
What’s your favorite wound cleaner?