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Why Does Hydrogen Peroxide Bubble?

It is easy to buy hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) from any drug store. What many people do not know is that they are not buying the purest form of hydrogen peroxide. They get a 3% solution, which means it contains 3% hydrogen peroxide and 97% water. It offers many benefits and is commonly used as an antiseptic. However, every time you dab hydrogen peroxide on a wound or cut, you notice white, fizzling foam. Why?

Why Does Hydrogen Peroxide Bubble?

The answer is that the fizzling foam you notice indicates that the solution is killing bacteria and healthy cells.

Hydrogen peroxide is made up of two oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. These atoms break apart after being exposed to blood and that causes stinging sizzle. It happens because blood contains the enzyme called catalase that attacks hydrogen peroxide and turns it into oxygen and water. The bubbles are basically the bubbles of oxygen gas produced after H2O2 is broken down by catalase found in blood. It is due to this reason only that you notice no bubbles when you pour peroxide on unbroken skin – it only reacts with blood.

It is important to understand that hydrogen peroxide is extremely reactive, so it comes with a shelf life. If you pour it on a cut and notice no bubbles, it indicates that peroxide is no longer active. You should go buy a new bottle of peroxide to clean your wound.

How Does Hydrogen Peroxide Work?

You already know the answer to, "Why does hydrogen peroxide bubble?" you may also want to how peroxide works. People have been using peroxide as an antiseptic since the 1920s. It works by destroying the cell walls of bacteria. The compound has oxygen atoms, which are incredibly reactive and attract electrons. The process is called oxidation that leaves fewer electrons in bacteria cells' walls, leaving them weak and damaged.

Warning: Hydrogen Peroxide Kills Healthy Cells

It is true that hydrogen peroxide has antiseptic properties, but you also need to bear in mind that it can also destroy healthy skin cells. It is for this reason that many dermatologists and experts do not encourage the use of hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds. They believe that the use of peroxide may slow the healing process and even make scarring worse by destroying the healthy cells.

The Better Alternative

Instead of using peroxide, you should use a saline solution to clean your wound as soon as possible. A saline solution is basically a 0.9% salt solution. If you do not have this solution available, simply use lukewarm tap water to clean the wound. Simply hold the wound under the running tap water until there is no dirt, debris, or bacterium left on the surface of your affected skin. Avoid scrubbing your wound with a washcloth or you may end up damaging it. This also increases the risk of infection. You should also avoid touching your open wound unless you are wearing medical gloves.

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