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How Effective Is Urine as an Antiseptic?

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  • Written By: Glyn Sinclair
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 08 August 2014
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Antiseptic solutions or compounds are used to ward off disease-causing microorganisms. They can be used on the skin, or even as a general cleaner to disinfect surfaces such as cooking tops and bathtubs. It's not very effective to use urine as an antiseptic because bacteria are able to survive in it. When urine leaves the body of someone who is in good health it is usually free of bacteria; however, there is a small amount of ammonia that could potentially help disinfect a wound to a certain degree. Using urine as an antiseptic should probably be as a last resort.

People have been using their own urine as an antiseptic as well as a means of treating various other disorders for hundreds of years. Some of the uses include treatments for malaria, fevers, wounds, asthma and even heart disease. During the medieval period people actually kept their garments close to the toilet ventilation shaft so that the ammonia could kill the fleas on the clothes. Although urine may not be entirely effective as an antiseptic, it does have other properties that are considered useful for certain medical therapies.

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There are a wide variety of antiseptics that are commercially available. Alcohol antiseptics can be used to clean surfaces and other inanimate objects, as well as wounds where the skin is not broken. They are also employed by hospital staff as a means of disinfecting hands and medical instruments. Peroxygen antiseptics such as hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean wounds and cuts, as well as for gargling with and disinfecting the mouth. Idaphor antiseptics can be used on the skin and are often applied topically before surgeries, as well as to disinfect medical equipment such as endoscopes, thermometers, scissors and scalpels.

Although the use of urine as an antiseptic is probably not particularly too harmful, there are many other side effects that can occur from other antiseptics. Some of the negative reactions can include rashes, hives, stinging of the skin and itching. More rare side effects could include heartbeat disturbances, drowsiness, low blood pressure and even seizures. People should seek medical help if any of these symptoms are noticed after working with these solutions. Antiseptics serve to reduce microorganisms on the surface of the skin and should probably not be used to treat sunburns or pre-existing skin infections.

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