I don’t use a lot of strong tincture of iodine. This bottle is so old, that I’m not sure just how old it is. Strong iodine is very caustic — in fact, about the only thing I use it for would be some type of chemical cautery, like sealing the navel cord on a newborn foal. When we want iodine activity in an antiseptic, we would use a tamed iodine. Povidone iodine (Betadine being the most well-known trade name) has the iodine bound to another molecule that makes it less traumatic to tissue. Even with the tamed iodine, we use very low concentrations. 0.5% (that’s one half of one percent — looks like weak tea) is plenty to kill germs. Any stronger, and you begin to kill the tissue you’re trying to protect. All that stuff that burns when you pour it on is burning for a reason. It’s not just hurting your feelings, it’s hurting the tissue that you were trying to help. If it burns like crazy, don’t pour it in an open wound.
It’s a good thing I don’t use much of it, as it is being declared a "controlled substance"; I’ll have to keep records on its purchase and use, just like a narcotic. It seems that iodine crystals are used as a catalyst in methamphetamine manufacture. So, just as cold-pills with pseudo-ephedrine got moved behind the counter, and you can only buy two lithium batteries at a time, the meth-heads (with help from federal regulators, of course) have now created a hassle for legitimate users of iodine. [ This is just for the strong stuff, strong tincture, crystals, and so forth. You can still buy the weak stuff without a problem.]
Of course, there are people who shouldn’t have access to iodine, I suppose. This past week a lady brought in her little Dachshund who had been vomiting a bit. Her uncle had told her that the dog might have parvovirus (it didn’t) and that she could kill the virus by putting a drop of iodine on the dog’s tongue. This is not the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, but it will make the semi-finals. NOT a good idea.
Apparently her uncle thinks that the skull and crossbones refer to some sort of pirate-themed party. "Poison" is only one letter off from "poisson", which is French for fish, and again you’ve got your nautical reference. My client was made a little uneasy by this warning, but … she trusted her uncle. She compromised by touching the dog’s tongue with a cotton-swab moistened in iodine. It was a bit like our Presbyterian approach to baptism: sort of a promise of moisture, rather than immersion.
Probably didn’t taste too good, but not enough to poison the dog, thank goodness.