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Guide to First Aid Swabs Towelettes Wipes

Updated on November 30, 2016

There are a lot of different single-use packets of medications, ointments and dressings in first aid kits - those fabric pads in a sealed package, usually a foil wrap, to apply medication in a situation requiring first aid. But using the wrong pad on a cut or wound could cause injury rather than bringing healing or relief from pain. Here are some common swabs or towelettes you'll encounter in your first aid kit, and what to use them for, and some precautions you should take.

Alcohol swabs are used for cleaning around a wound, and disinfecting tweezers, thermometers and other instruments. They should not be used directly on a wound as alcohol can cause damage and prevent healing. Can be used to prep unbroken skin. A non-medical use is as a solvent to remove ink and adhesives. Can also be used as a fire starting aid in an emergency.

Antiseptic swabs, or Benzalkonium Chloride towlettes are used as a skin disinfectant. They are ideal for cleansing a wound. Effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa.

Use these to clean your hands before helping the person needing first aid. Antimicrobial hand wipes are effective against gram positive and negative bacteria, fungi and yeasts. Prevent cross-contamination. Used in hospitals and clinics to kill microorganisms and prevent infection.

Povidone Iodine ointment is an antiseptic (cleansing and sterilizing agent) and topical antibiotic. It's effective and painless, although it can be messy. It can be used to clean a wound, applied directly on the skin or a sterile dressing. Can be diluted in water for washing a wound. Some individuals are allergic to iodine and can get a rash. It should not be applied to deep puncture wounds, or on severe burns.

Moist Towelettes are non-medical pads used for quick clean up. Do not apply to a wound. Not antiseptic but good for cleaning. Remember not to use on wounds.

Insect Repellent wipes do just that: keep insects away. Protection against mosquitoes, gnats and other insects. The best of these wipes use all natural ingredients

Sting Relief swabs for relief of insect bites, minor burns, scrapes, scratches. Use for immediate relief. Not for long term use, if swelling occurs, discontinue. Do not use in eyes or nose or on large areas of the body.

Calendula is a herb used to soothe the skin, helps with skin rashes and sunburn. Soothes inflamed tissues. Ideal baby wipe.

Lipoamino acid purify the skin while removing excess oil, dirt, impurities and other blemish-causing factors. Great to soothe blisters. Lipoamino acids are common ingredient in many skin care products.

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