Hydrogen peroxide is a popular ingredient in many bleaches, lacquers, cleansers, antiseptics, and disinfectants. This all-around liquid has many imaginable uses but also several safety concerns if people use it wrongly. Due to its availability and antiseptic properties, many people consider hydrogen peroxide a staple in their first aid kit. However, hydrogen peroxide may come in different concentrations, depending on the intended use.
The risk of using hydrogen peroxide increases with higher concentrations, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
So, this article discusses what hydrogen peroxide is and how a person can safely use it, as well as its risks.
HYDROGEN PEROXIDE, WHAT IS IT?
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a colorless liquid with an identical chemical formula to water (H2O). The extra oxygen molecule — from which hydrogen peroxide gets its name, as it features one hydrogen per oxygen — represents the major variation between the formulas. This additional oxygen molecule allows hydrogen peroxide to act as a strong oxidizing agent.
This implies it can receive electrons from other substances. This makes it a substantial disinfectant — it can oxidize the cell membrane of a microbe, which results in a loss of structure and leads to the death of the pathogen. Although many people regard hydrogen peroxide as a comfortable general disinfectant, the exposure can disturb the eyes, throat, respiratory airway, and skin. Mistakenly drinking hydrogen peroxide may also result in serious gastrointestinal consequences.
USES OF HYDROGEN PEROXIDE.
Hydrogen peroxide has many advantages and impediments to how you use them. The following are some uses of hydrogen peroxide.
1.Hydrogen Peroxide is used for Oral hygiene.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used safely as a mouth rinse as long as they use it correctly. It may cause harm if a person uses it too often or if the concentration is too strong. Again, hydrogen peroxide may help treat gum disease. It may also be beneficial for blemish sores.
Nonetheless, it should not be used too strong a concentration, such as 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide. Because it could lead to serious gastrointestinal problems if a person accidentally swallows it. Most importantly, it is advisable to apply caution when using it to whiten your teeth. Hydrogen peroxide may adversely affect tooth enamel when left in the mouth for an extended period.
2. Hydrogen peroxide is used for skin care.
Take note that hydrogen peroxide used for skincare is not appropriate even though people go-ahead to use them. Experts recommend against the use of hydrogen peroxide as wound cleansing since it can damage the cells necessary for wound healing. But some people may consider using hydrogen peroxide as part of their skincare routine due to its bleaching properties. However, at higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, the risk of severe burns and blistering greatly outweighs any potential skin benefit. For instance, people may use hydrogen peroxide to treat acne. Although it may have comparable results as other acne treatments. But, due to its potential to irritate the skin, people should use other acne treatments instead.
3. It is used as easy removal of ear wax
The medical term for earwax is “cerumen.” Hydrogen peroxide is a cerumenolytic, meaning it can dissolve earwax. For this reason, many ear drops contain hydrogen peroxide as a common ingredient to remove earwax. However, people should apply caution when using hydrogen peroxide in their ears because of its side effects which include temporary loss of hearing, increased pain in the ear, ringing of the ears, and dizziness
People should avoid using a strong concentration of hydrogen peroxide or using it too frequently. This can irritate the ear and are result in complications. In addition, a person should not use ear drops if they have an ear infection or a damaged eardrum.
4. Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant
Hydrogen peroxide acts as an effective disinfectant. People can use commercially available 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfectant surfaces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, evidence also indicates that hydrogen peroxide helps as an effective disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. hydrogen peroxide can again act as an effective wound cleanser, particularly as it can help remove debris from the wound but it should be done with caution.
5. Hydrogen peroxide is used to treat Acne.
Benzoyl peroxide is an over-the-counter product the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for acne treatment.
It has antibacterial properties, meaning it may act effectively against bacteria that can lead to acne. It can also reduce sebum, an oily substance that can result in acne.
6. Hydrogen peroxide is used to treat toothache.
Rinsing with a hydrogen peroxide solution is an effective antibacterial mouthwash, especially if a toothache is caused by an infection. Hydrogen peroxide is dangerous if swallowed so great care must be taken when rinsing. It should be mixed in equal parts of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and water and waggled in the mouth for about 30 seconds. After spitting it out, the mouth should be rinsed many times with plain water. However, this remedy is not recommended for children.
7. Hydrogen peroxide is used as intravenous therapy called hydrogen peroxide therapy.
Hydrogen peroxide therapy is an intravenous therapy in which hydrogen peroxide is instilled into the circulatory system through a vein in the arm. Hydrogen peroxide is a more biological option as our bodies automatically produce H202 constantly as part of metabolism. There are components in certain white blood cells called “peroxisomes,” which produce H2O2. These white cells then absorb bacteria that cause disease and mix them with these peroxisomes. They both then die as the single oxygen from H2O2 that eliminates the bacteria or virus. Clinical experience has shown that hydrogen peroxide therapy boosts the immune system by improving the production of interferon by human killer cells and monocytes, it increases the oxygen content of tissues, and it also Hinders all types of infections: viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic.
SAFETY AND RISKS OF HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
While household 3% hydrogen peroxide is generally safe, exposure to higher concentrations can come with risks.
Many marketers may promote stronger concentrations of hydrogen peroxide as an alternative medication for various treatments. However, generally, no scientific evidence supports such claims, which can occur in severe injury or potentially life-threatening situations, according to Poison Control. People should still apply caution when using 3% hydrogen peroxide. It can be toxic if a person ingests, inhales, or gets it on their skin.
According to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), complications may include: vomiting, gastrointestinal discomfort, gastric distention, gastric embolism,respiratory immobility,pulmonary irritation, ocular pain, burns etc.
In a nutshell, exposure to hydrogen peroxide may produce mild symptoms. However, whenever doubt prevails about whether these symptoms warrant medical attention, an individual should go to the hospital. They also should report to the doctor any symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as rash and itching.
If any symptoms seem severe, a person should go to the emergency room immediately. For example, according to Poison Control, life-threatening indications of a gas embolism include chest pain and difficulty breathing.
- Medically reviewed by Femi Aremu, PharmD - All to know about hydrogen peroxide on July 20, 2021
2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2002. Managing Hazardous Materials Incidents. Volume III - Medical Management Guidelines for Acute Chemical Exposures: Hydrogen Peroxide. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
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