The best topical antiseptic agent for the skin are solutions that contain iodine. Iodine is a nonmetallic element discovered in 1812. Its name comes from the Greek word ioeides for violet colored, and from ion which means violet.
This may come as a complete surprise because when we look at the color of iodine as it comes out of it's bottle it is usually a deep, dark orange-brown. However, if you have ever seen iodine crystals, perhaps in the chemistry lab, you find that the color of the iodine's vapor is violet.
Watch this video to see the violet vapor of iodine:
Betadine vs Iodine...
Iodine's use in the treatment of wounds was first described in 1839. By the late 1800's, iodine tinctures came into wide use as microbicides. Iodine quickly kills a broad range of microorganisms. In laboratory test, iodine destroys many microorganisms and viruses within 3-5 minutes. How iodine kills these microorganisms and viruses is not exactly understood, but it rapidly penetrates cell walls, stops or interferes with protein syntheses and reacts with cell membranes and membrane bound structures.
The use of iodine for cleansing skin, or disinfecting small wounds presents some problems. Iodine solutions have a strong smell and can stain skin and clothing. They react to metals and are rather unstable. Some people find it irritates their skin, especially after they have been in contact with it for a few minutes. More so, and more importantly, certain individuals are very sensitive to iodine, such as those with allergies to sea food. Before using iodine on anybody, ask if they have an allergy to sea food, which includes certain types of fish and shell fish. Even if they deny an allergy but state that on occasion they have been a "little" irritated by it, such as a slight tingling on the lip, chances are they might not realize that they have a sea food allergy. As a precaution these individuals should not be treated with any products that contain iodine.
REMEMBER: Betadine and tincture of iodine are not the same thing. Tincture of iodine is NOT safe to use. Tincture of Iodine is poisonous! Never use tincture of iodine when penetrating, or piercing skin. It dangerously inflames mucus membranes and if put on a wound, or piercing it can result in a toxic level of iodine absorption.
Betadine (Provodone iodine):
Fortunately, various mixtures and solutions of iodine, which are called Iodaphores, have been formulated that greatly lessen such disadvantages and dangers, and at the same time enhance stability and microbe killing properties. These solutions are now in wide use in hospitals, sanitation and water purification, veterinary industries, food service and also the brewing industries.
Betadine (which is 10% Provodone Iodine) is perhaps the best and most effective topical antiseptic agent available. Betadine comes in a variety of forms. You can get it in premoistened swabs, but it's most easiest to find in liquid form in pint and quart size bottles. It's in the "first-aid" section of the drug store.
Unfortunately the drawback of using Betadine solution is that the brownish stain it leaves on the skin is a bit unsightly, however this can be eliminated if the phlebotomist uses two solutions to cleanse the skin. The phlebotomist swabs the chosen area with Betadine. After allowing the Betadine to dry for a minute or two, the phlebotomist wipes the brownish stain away with sterile gauze pads soaked in 70% alcohol. Then the puncture starts a minute or two after the alcohol wipe.
Once the desired amount of blood has been collected and needles have been removed, the skin is wiped with sterile gauze soaked in Hydrogen Peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide cools the skin and helps cleanup any blood. Many people find this a relaxing step and a nice ending to the process of venipuncture. It's best not to use alcohol after the blood collection, as it causes stinging pain and irritates even the tiniest puncture and breaks in the skin that might have already been present.