povidone iodine

Povidone iodine topical

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Povidone iodine topical

Povidone-iodine is a stable chemical complex of polyvinylpyrrolidone (povidone, PVP) and elemental iodine. It contains from 9.0% to 12.0% available iodine, calculated on a dry basis. This unique complex was discovered in 1955 at the Industrial Toxicology Laboratories in Philadelphia by H. A. Shelanski and M. V. Shelanski. During in vitro testing to demonstrate anti-bacterial activity it was found that the complex was less toxic in mice than tincture of iodine. Human clinical trials showed the product to be superior to other iodine formulations. Povidone-iodine was immediately marketed, and has since become the universally preferred iodine antiseptic.

povidone iodine

Povidone iodine topical is used on the skin to treat or prevent skin infection in minor cuts, scrapes, or burns. Povidone iodine topical is also used in a medical setting to help prevent infection and promote healing in skin wounds, pressure sores, or surgical incisions.

Some forms of povidone iodine topical are used inside the mouth to provide temporary relief of minor mouth pain or irritation, sore throat, or canker sore pain.


For topical application in the treatment and prevention of infection in wounds


Povidone iodine is a kind of iodine disinfectant which directly cause in vivo protein denaturation, precipitation of bacteria, and further resulting in the death of pathogenic microorganisms. Therefore, it is effective in disinfection and sterilization. It can kill viruses, bacteria, spores, fungi, and protozoa with low toxicity to human.

Povidone-iodine aqueous solution has strong pharmacological activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, syphilis, hepatitis B virus, HIV, and Trichomonas vaginalis.

Povidone iodine gel is a gynecological topical semi-mobile colloidal agent made by povidone iodine and hydrophilic matrix. It is a system for maintaining its sustained release. Owing to the continuous release of free iodine, it can enable the skin and mucous membranes to maintain a certain effective concentration of iodine for killing bacteria. It is mainly used for gynecological vaginal infection. It exerted its effect through being miscible with vaginal secretions and further killing the inside pathogenic microorganisms, and thus blocking the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and invasion, as well as treating other infected vaginal diseases caused by other kinds of bacteria.

Published reports on the in vitro antimicrobial efficacy of iodophors demonstrate that iodophors are bactericidal, mycobactericidal, and virucidal but can require prolonged contact times to kill certain fungi and bacterial spores. Three brands of povidone-iodine solution have demonstrated more rapid kill (seconds to minutes) of S. aureus and M. chelonae at a 1:100 dilution than did the stock solution. The virucidal activity of 75–150 ppm available iodine was demonstrated against seven viruses. Other investigators have questioned the efficacy of iodophors against poliovirus in the presence of organic matter and rotavirus in distilled or tapwater. Manufacturers’ data demonstrate that commercial iodophors are not sporicidal, but they are tuberculocidal, fungicidal, virucidal, and bactericidal at their recommended use-dilution.

Mechanism of action

Povidone-iodine is called iodophore which means povidone acts as a carrier of iodine. Iodine is considered as the active moiety that mediates microbicidal actions. When released from the complex, free iodine (I2) penetrates the cell wall of microorganisms quickly, and the lethal effects are believed to result from disruption of protein and nucleic acid structure and synthesis. While the full mechanism of action is not fully elucidated, iodine is thought to inhibit vital bacterial cellular mechanisms and structures, and oxidizes nucleotides fatty or amino acids in bacterial cell membranes.

Additionally, free iodine disrupts the function of the cytosolic enzymes involved in the respiratory chain, causing them to become denatured and deactivated. In vitro evidence suggests that iodine also counteracts inflammation elicited by both pathogens and the host response via multifactorial effects. In hosts, povidone-iodine was demonstrated to modulate the redox potential, inhibit the release of inflammatory mediators such as TNF-α and β-galactosidase, inhibit metalloproteinase production, and potentiate the healing signals from pro-inflammatory cytokines by activation of monocytes, T-lymphocytes, and macrophages, in vitro.

Before taking this medicine

  • You should not use povidone iodine topical if you are allergic to it.
  • Ask a doctor or pharmacist if povidone iodine topical is safe to use if you have any medical conditions or allergies.
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  • Do not use this medicine on a young child without medical advice.
  • Ask a doctor before using this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you are breastfeeding, avoid applying this medicine to breast areas that may come into contact with the baby’s mouth.

How should I use povidone iodine topical?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor.

Povidone iodine topical is available in many different forms, such as a liquid, ointment, aerosol powder, cream, spray, swab, and soap. Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

Always follow directions on the medicine label about using this medicine on a child. Some forms of povidone iodine topical should not be used in children of certain ages.

Povidone iodine topical is usually applied to the skin as needed. First clean the area to be treated.

Shake povidone iodine topical spray well just before each use.

Allow the medicine to dry completely on the skin before applying a bandage. Do not apply a tight bandage.

Do not use this medicine on deep wounds, puncture wounds, animal bites, or serious burns. Do not apply over large skin areas.

When treating an infection, you may be given antibiotic medication to take by mouth. Use all medicines for the full prescribed length of time, even if your symptoms quickly improve.

Povidone iodine topical used in the mouth may be used up to 4 times per day. How often you can use this medicine depends on what form you use. Follow all directions on the medicine label.

Do not use povidone iodine topical in the mouth if you are using a form that is made for use only on the skin.

To use povidone iodine topical spray in the mouth, spray directly into the mouth or throat. Leave the medicine in place for 15 seconds, then spit it out. Avoid swallowing the spray. Use once every 2 hours as needed.

To use povidone iodine topical as a mouth rinse, gargle or swish the liquid for 30 seconds, then spit it out. Do not swallow the liquid. Use up to 4 times per day.

You should not use povidone iodine topical for longer than 7 days without medical advice.

Call your doctor if your sore throat is severe or ongoing after 2 days, or if you also have a high fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

If you are using povidone iodine topical on your skin, seek medical advice if you have new or worsening symptoms of pain, redness, swelling, rash, or fever.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze.

Each povidone iodine topical swab is for one use only.

Povidone iodine topical can stain skin, teeth, and fabric. You may use rubbing alcohol to remove staining from your skin. Avoid getting alcohol onto a wound or irritated skin. Stains on fabric can be removed by rinsing with ammonia diluted with water. Avoid getting the medicine on jewelry, especially silver.

Povidone iodine topical spray is flammable. Do not use near high heat or open flame. Do not smoke until the gel has completely dried on your skin.


Povidone iodine is contraindicated in people with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) and other diseases of the thyroid, after treatment with radioiodine, and in people with dermatitis herpetiformis (Duhring’s disease)

Povidone iodine topical side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • swelling, pain, warmth, redness, oozing, or other signs of infection;
  • blistering or crusting; or
  • severe irritation, itching, or burning.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

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