Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Why You Should (And Shouldn't) Put Hydrogen Peroxide On Cuts

What you’re seeing, when hydrogen peroxide fizzes up on contact with blood, is a desperate stuggle for life. An enzyme in your blood, and most other living things, rips hydrogen peroxide apart – but not fast enough for bacteria.

Advertisement

Hydrogen peroxide is just H2O2. That’s water with one extra oxygen, which seems simple enough. For cells, though, it’s a destroyer of worlds. If you’re wondering why, have a look at the double oxygen atoms. Oxygen is a greedy atom, hungry for electrons. It will rip the electrons out of any molecule within reach, including molecules inside cells – and they don’t respond well to sudden electron restructuring.

Too much restructuring kills cells, including the ones in your body. This is bad enough for you. A bacterium doesn’t have as many cells as you do. Pouring hydrogen peroxide exposes bacteria and your own cells alike to a relentless onslaught of murderous goo.

Advertisement

There are defenses, though. If you remember the marketing on your bottles of pomegranate juice and kale smoothies, they’re full of antioxidants. Antioxidants take the bullet so your body’s cells, or the bacteria’s cell, don’t have to. And then there’s catalase. Catalase is an enzyme that’s present in most living cells, including yeast cells, your blood cells, or bacterial cells. Catalase rips H202 into regular H20, with a little extra oxygen. The bubbles you see are oxygen harvested from the hydrogen peroxide. It gets a little structure from the protein fragments that the hydrogen peroxide has heartlessly slain.

Note: This entry needed extensive revision, and has been re-written. I was wrong, guys. Sorry!

[Sources: Decomposing Hydrogen Peroxide, The Oxygen Dilemma.]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

Synchronicity strikes. Long story short one of the Hospice nurses was here today and we were going over the way I have been taking care of some “magical” cuts or bleeds that have been mysteriously appearing because we cannot get them to heal. When I mentioned that I clean the bleeds with hp before applying ointment she looked at me like I was mad. Apparently I missed a memo and it is standard now to use a saline solution to clean cuts, etc? Anyway, she left me with bottles of 0.9% Sodium Chloride Irrigation USP (yes, I am reading the label and what does USP mean?) to use from now on.