Is Iodine the right stuff for your horses wound?

At our First Response workshop yesterday I covered the topic of what to use to clean and heal wounds.  I talk about the products that shouldn’t be used on wounds.  At every workshop almost everyone is surprised to hear that Betadine should not be used on wounds as a first line cleaning solution.  Horse owners love the stuff and unfortunately so do a lot of Vets.  In fact many people will quite passionately argue their love of the stuff with ‘well the wound healed’. The problem is we have such little knowledge about how quickly a wound should heal on a horse that if it heals at all we believe that the products did that.  Actually many times they heal in spite of all the things we put on the wound just because horses are generally healthy animals.

There are times when Betadine is a good product to use.  I use a weak Betadine solution on skin fungal infections or penetrating hoof injuries.

The reason I don’t use Betadine on wounds is because it is toxic to the healing cells and will actually slow the healing process by drying out the wound bed and damaging the cells in the granulating tissue and cells that are rebuilding.  It’s an antiseptic and we don’t need an antiseptic for a wound that is not infected.  Iodine is used to kill all the bacteria on skin which is great when you want a sterile area to operate or suture.  That’s not what we want when we’re healing a wound.  It’s not just my opinion either……….there is plenty of evidence out there to support this view and we stopped using Betadine on wounds many years ago in the human wound care space.

There are much better products that can be used to address a bacterial load in a wound than one that will damage it.  

Another thing people often don’t know either is that the active product in Betadine starts to diminish and denature after the bottle is opened.  It’s recommended that you discard 4 weeks after opening.

As I’m fond of saying it’s important to use the match the product you are using to the stage of healing.  If you’d like more information on wound healing to download our free ebook here at