time is all she has to kill (lady_moriel) wrote in little_details,
time is all she has to kill

Reactions to antiseptics and disinfectants (skin irritation, smell)

I'm writing a fic set in the modern-day US, and a character has some serious injuries (burns, various incisions, broken bones, etc.) from being used as a lab rat for a year. Once he finally escapes, he has to clean his injuries with whatever's readily available (any over-the-counter stuff) because he can't go to a hospital. I have a scene where he's going to use rubbing alcohol but the smell gives him a flashback because it's what the scientists would use to disinfect his skin before making any incisions (an assumption I made because alcohol is used before injections), so instead he switches to iodine, which stings more but doesn't trigger memories. And then I actually did a little research and discovered that iodine solutions are more often used before surgery and that probably does cause skin irritation, but I can't figure out whether that's the same sort of thing you might find in a first aid kit or a different solution/concentration, or what it smells like, or if that would be the obvious first choice in a first-aid kit and something less ideal would be available.

So I suppose my really specific question boils down to two parts (which themselves have multiple parts):
1. Is there a substance that a) could reasonably be used as a pre-operative antiseptic; b) has a strong, distinct smell; and c) is available over the counter in a form that at least has a similarly strong smell to whatever's used in actual surgeries?
2. Is there another substance that would a) reasonably be found in a decent first-aid kit or otherwise as a common over-the-counter antiseptic; b) hurt more than the above substance when applied to a wound; and c) have a different smell than the above substance?

I've read about alcohol, iodine, and antiseptics in general on Wikipedia and Googled stuff like "what does iodine smell like" and "antiseptics that sting" without much luck because, again, this is a weirdly specific question. I also found a couple good pages about antiseptics, but what I'm looking for--especially about smells--doesn't really show up.
Tags: ~medicine: drugs

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