Message Number: YG6395 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-08-15 23:59:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Hydrogen Peroxide

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., katharine <shurcool@i...> wrote:
> I can't address the ear cleaning bit. I used to
> clean my ferrets' ears with mineral oil until I
> realized there were actually ear cleaning products
> out there.
> I have been told (that nebulous "they") that, on a
> injury...human being or should only
> use hydrogen peroxide once. After that, it can
> start killing tissue. I live by that rule with
> myself and my wildlife and domesticated animals
> though I can't offer any scientific evidence.
> Just thought I'd stir things up a bit.....
> Katharine

Just noticed this thread on hydrogen peroxide, and use in ears, etc.

Here's the skinny on hydrogen peroxide - it can be used in some
instances to clean wounds, etc., but usually only in the initial

Hydrogen peroxide has both good and bad properties. The good
properties of peroxide are that a) it fizzes upon contact with
tissue. Now if you have a lot of dirt in a wound, bacteria, etc.,
this action can bring some material to the surface that would
otherwise sit in a wound - so this physical action is beneficial.
B) Peroxide has a mild anti-bacterial effect (although alcohol and
iodine are stronger against bacteria. Adding peroxide to tissues
liberates oxygen-containing free radicals which will work against
bacteria at least in some fashion. However, it also works against
healthy tissue as well.
c) It doesn't hurt.

Now for the bad parts:

1) Wounds treated with hydrogen peroxide heal more slowly. Most
hospitals and doctors recommend against using peroxide as a
repetitive cleansing agent for wounds.
2) After the fizz is gone, hydrogen peroxide becomes simple water.
This makes it a very bad choice for an ear cleaner. I far prefer an
astringent for use in ears. Using peroxide overtime is just like
pouring water into your ferrets ears, and eventually you will end up
with an infection.
3) Unlike iodine solutions (like betadine, etc.) there is absolutely
no residual antibacterial action.

For routine cleansing of wounds, water with a little bit of soap, or
a little bit of an iodine-containing soap is the way to go. For
ears, the combinationof a ceruminolytic applied first (something that
dissolves wax), followed by an alcohol-based product for cleaning
(which will help dry up moist ears) is the most appropriate way to go.

With kindest regards,

Bruce Williams, DVM