Alcohol wipe, yes or no

By lovemyfurkids Latest Reply 2010-01-18 22:29:43 -0600
Started 2010-01-10 11:13:06 -0600

I have been wanting to ask this since I read it in Diabetes Forecast. They had an article about giving injections. In the article they did not say to wipe the area with alcohol or anything else, before injecting. Readers wrote in and pointed out that DF had left out that step. DF replied that alcohol is not a sanitizer or any other kind of disinfectant. There is no reason nor purpose to use it for injection site. DF said that as long was the site area was clean, you can do the injection with out the alcohol wipe.

What do you all think??

I still use alcohol to wipe the area before doing any of my insulin injections. I just feel safer doing that, and not just sticking the needle in without any cleansing of the area. I even wipe the tip of my pen/cartridge before putting the needle head on it.

58 replies

Lovepo 2010-01-18 14:58:14 -0600 Report

I prefer to use alcohol wipes,but I would think if you wash with soap and water that would be fine too. I always make sure before testing that the site is clean clean clean.My daughter and I did a test to see what would happen. We tested without using a wipe or soap and the sugar was hgh. Then we used a wipe and tested again which was a real reading of our blood sugar. We had much lower blood sugar levels. So it does matter if you do it right or not. I use the alcohol wipes faithfully. Or make sure I wash with soap and water first before testing.

Danni-the-diabetic 2010-01-18 20:59:02 -0600 Report

Thanks for sharing that because I wouldve never thought to test the theories and now I am going to start using wipes or washing religiously when I check.

Elrond 2010-01-18 21:07:42 -0600 Report

I always have just because it was drilled into me. I've never had an infection and rarely get a BS reading I question. But from the posts here, I see that others get similar results with less care. I think habit will keep me using soap & alcohol anyway.

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-18 22:29:43 -0600 Report

Sounds good to me, I will convert BACK to being more sterile—have more energy now and it doesn't seem like such a chore!! PR

ram63 2010-01-18 00:02:46 -0600 Report

As a former EMT, I was taught to always sanitize the area before an injection and I do the same before testing and injections. I would rather take the precaution than risk any infection.

twice_as_nice45 2010-01-16 15:14:58 -0600 Report

Oops, added that in the wrong spot, sorry. I'll try again here. Hey guys, new here so I'm hoping I'm doing this right. I have a 10 year old Type 1 diabetic son and we use the wipes pretty religiously. We even use the ones with pain reliever in them, trying to make things a little easier, I guess. he's only been diagnosed about 2 years so I still feel like a virtual newbie to all this. Looking forward to reaping some of your wisdom! Thanks

BeckyJ 2010-01-16 15:32:42 -0600 Report

Alcohol wipes can dry out the skin pretty bad. If you are someone like me who has sensitive skin using them regularly can lead to cracking and soreness. If you haven't noticed any problems like that than alcohol wipes can't hurt and the pain reliever in some can actually help with the sting leftover from piercing the skin to test or inject. It's an individual choice. I choose not to use them unless I KNOW that my injection site is dirty. The rest of the time I just use soap and water to avoid drying out. With kids though you can never be 100% certain they're clean so the alcohol wipes are probably a good idea. :)

BeckyJ 2010-01-16 14:57:56 -0600 Report

I've been on both sides of the battle here. When I was first diagnosed I was supper careful of everything. Anti-bac soap to wash hands before alll testing alcohol wipes etc. REALLY OCD about it. Then I got a little lazy and only washed my hands when I remembered and never used alcohol wipes. Never had a problem with both ways. Now I live with my parents and my Mom is awaiting a Liver transplant. The house is kept hospital clean to lower the risk of infection and I have gotten back in the habit of going clean. I still don't use the alcohol wipes on my skin because that just dries you out and doesn't really keep infection at bay. I do use the alcohol on the vial tops an injection pen prior to needle application.I DO wash my hands regularly but not anti-bac soap. That's just a gimmick (transplant team told me this…so there) Regular soap with warm water for about 60 seconds, dry with a paper towel and air dry for about 20 seconds before testing. This may be a psychological thing but it's seems to be working. Haven't gotten an infection or cold or ANYTHING for about a year now. The cleaning of the house however has taken on a life of it's own. Oh well, on the home stretch now for the transplant so I don't want to jinx anything. You can't be too careful…can you?

twice_as_nice45 2010-01-16 15:12:45 -0600 Report

Hey guys, new here so I'm hoping I'm doing this right. I have a 10 year old Type 1 diabetic son and we use the wipes pretty religiously. We even use the ones with pain reliever in them, trying to make things a little easier, I guess. he's only been diagnosed about 2 years so I still feel like a virtual newbie to all this. Looking forward to reaping some of your wisdom! Thanks

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-16 19:56:13 -0600 Report

Welcome!! Don't worry about your response popping up into the wrong slot,it happens, that is why a name is nice at the beginning of a response, so one will know that it is for THEM. Pat R

Elrond 2010-01-14 21:55:40 -0600 Report

I was my parents' first child after 5 years of trying. They were fanatical about sterilizing everything I touched or might even touch. I've spent the last 58 years attempting to overcome the OCD that caused me. But I still insist on an alcohol swab and very clean hands.

AddassaMari 2010-01-15 07:54:58 -0600 Report

I was a little frantic about germs when my kids were younger, especially with my first, as they grew older I kinda relaxed a —-little.

kdroberts 2010-01-13 15:44:23 -0600 Report

I guess I'm bad, I don't use alcohol, I rarely wash my hands specifically for testing/injection, I rarely change lancets and re-use needles. Alcohol will dry your skin and eventually cause the sites to harden and doesn't really sanitize much. Washing your hands is fair enough but when you usually dry your hands on a towel or paper towels and then touch a bunch of stuff before you actually test or inject you get plenty of bacteria on your nicely washed hands anyway. If my hands/skin is noticeably dirty or I think there may something on my hands that will alter a test result I'll wash them, otherwise I figure they are clean enough.

AddassaMari 2010-01-13 22:18:18 -0600 Report

Washing hands do not eliminate all the pathogens on the hands all it does is reduce their numbers. Alcohol swabs does a similar job.

When in a public place use paper towels to turn off faucets, open doors, etc, and never touch trash cans lids directly

Proper hand washing includes using disposable towels to turn off faucets and open doors when in a public place. I would think paper kitchen towels, or a clean bath towel is just as safe at home. I think it is better to be safe than sorry, having clean hands for testing and injecting seem prudent to me.

But then I object to dirty hands and equipment under any conditions.

Danni-the-diabetic 2010-01-14 18:16:26 -0600 Report

Yeah, Im one that uses paper towels, to lock and unlock bathroom door, turn on and off faucet and open door…I use to be like that with any door, even if it was a store lol I was a little ocd, but now so much anymore.

Anonymous 2010-01-14 19:38:10 -0600 Report

OCD????!!!!! Darn! I've been telling my husband it is just old habits from spending so much time in Surgery and practicing aseptic and sterile know:clean to clean, dirty to dirty. He tells me I'm being OCD when I make him wash his hands before he helps me cook and not use the same cutting board for veggies as raw meat and not let the dogs run through the house when I'm cooking and use a clean cloth to wipe off the dining table and…oh heck, there is no end to the "rules". I'd apologize to my hubby for being so picky but we don't get colds and flu like other folks so I think he should be grateful..LOL

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-14 19:50:44 -0600 Report

Hey, it sounds like I could eat a meal in your home and NOT worry about dog and cat hairs flying into my food, nor bacteria either!! I also worked in a hospital, NOT surgery, but still had instilled in me a CLEAN ETHIC!!! We don't get colds very often either—-especially since I get more sleep—-being retired and all of that jazz! PR

AddassaMari 2010-01-14 20:05:58 -0600 Report

My step-mom was a nurse, so that clean thing, I get it. We have a policy in my home, as soon as we get home, we wash our hands. My kids seldom ever get a cold and I can't think of the last time I had on. Nothing OCD about that, seems like common sense to me.

AddassaMari 2010-01-14 20:08:43 -0600 Report

Bet you don't get food poisoning either. You keep on keeping those veggies away from that raw meat, never the twain shall meet until the meat is cooked.

Danni-the-diabetic 2010-01-14 22:49:17 -0600 Report

Okay, lol I guess not I wasnt OCD about that, just wierd. Im clean but yeah, nothing OCD about me…especially lol when I see just how OCD people can really be. There's nothing wrong with it though, it is better to be clean, safe and healthy than sorry and safe.

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-14 22:58:57 -0600 Report

I was always so busy and tired that I was CLEAN but took shortcuts here and there. One time I was staying with an elderly woman and she insisted that I wash dishes from right to left, which was fine as that is what I did at home. Then she didn't want me to wash and dry the tea towels with other things as they smelled. I thought that she was a little too much, but have noticed that tea towels, especially cotton ones, can pick up odors.

Then her son was so THRIFTY, he would drive his car down the alleys with his lights off, at night, so he could save on his battery, also he turned his car motor off when he went down a hill, to save gas??!!! Guess it takes all kinds!! Pat R

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-15 09:57:30 -0600 Report

Yep, I just love to hear how some people use thrifty ways, some I would NEVER even dream of! One woman said her husband wears his T-shirts, wrong side out, to get more wear out of them! Frankly I can't see how THAT one works! One won't use Campbell's soup in casseroles etc, yet will drive 75 miles to Wichita, to buy special nuts at a Nut House, for her candies! At first it seemed strange, but —whatever, mom washed her paper towels, plastics, saved EVERYTHING, was the mother of recycling! hah-_PR

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-16 12:28:57 -0600 Report

Great! I do SOME, until my hubby just throws it all out!! No chance of special bins, he hates the clutter!! I will hold my tongue on THAT One! I too believe in helping to save the planet!! PR

great dane
great dane 2010-01-16 12:52:30 -0600 Report

I'm with you K.D., I never use wipes and wash only if dirty. I also occasionally inject through my clothes. I've been doing it for more than 25 years with no ill effects. Art

2010-01-16 13:12:05 -0600 Report

I'm guilty of this also. I don't use alcohol wipes and only wash my hands for testing if there is something on them that might alter the reading or if they're dirty. However, I only re-use syringes when I'm away from home and have forgotten to bring enough with me.

packrat2 2010-01-16 16:33:44 -0600 Report

I am with you kdroberts…I don't use alcohol and I reuse syringes and use lancets for weeks…and yes I have taken insulin shots {when out to eat} though my clothes..but I am not new to diabetes got it at 20 yrs. old am now 67..packrat2

Danni-the-diabetic 2010-01-17 00:18:02 -0600 Report

I reuse syringes and lancets, but I can only reuse the syringes a few times - a couple times I couldnt even poke through my skin because the needle was so dull. I know it's not a healthy habit. I've never poked through my clothes - Ouch!

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-17 18:19:07 -0600 Report

Sorry, I am inconsistant in what I do, but haven't noticed any sticks being sore or tough—no infections etc, BORING but I will accept it!! haha—PR

Danni-the-diabetic 2010-01-13 15:33:14 -0600 Report

What about antibacterial gel? Would it matter if it is scented or not?

AddassaMari 2010-01-13 22:05:37 -0600 Report

Antibacterial gels kills some germs, but you still have dead germs on your hands. That would do in an absolutely pinch, but warm soapy water is the best way to clean hands, and alcohol pads as recommended for other test sites.

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-13 22:19:54 -0600 Report

Yow, I have HEARD that antibacterial soap is just a gimmick, but washing in warm water and with FRICTION is good for any one washing their hands. And any soap surely couldn't hurt, unless it is too drying—-one could go on and on—couldn't we? haha—PR

mamaoak 2010-01-12 11:46:01 -0600 Report

they tolld me to use soap and water dry hands with paper towel iued the wips if i am out some where though.

Elrond 2010-01-12 00:36:25 -0600 Report

I always use an alcohol swab to wipe the insulin vial and clean the injection site. I use antibacterial soap before blood tests but I suppose it's all a habit going back to the 70's. I was an army medic then and all of that was drilled into me.

dietcherry 2010-01-11 20:37:42 -0600 Report

When I was taking phlebotomy, we used alcohol preps with the understanding that they do not kill all germs but are good enough for drawing blood. I think just washing with soap would have the same effect. I personally haven't used a prep in years-I just got lazy and it was one more step that I felt I could cut out. I am still here! :)

Danni-the-diabetic 2010-01-10 17:22:02 -0600 Report

I will use it to clean the tip of my cartridge for testing or if i dont have a place near by to wash my hands. I was told that if you use alcohol for testing your blood sugars that your results can come out lower than they really are, so if you do that than I guess dry the area first. I don't use alcohol wipes for my injection sites, but that's just me…

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-11 23:49:41 -0600 Report

When I worked at the hospital, the nurse ALWAYS wipes with an alcohol prep, then blows on it, of course her "air" had better be dry—-as for me, I just wash anymore, gotten too lazy, I guess. PR

Anonymous 2010-01-12 20:43:36 -0600 Report

"Dry" or not, I don't want healthcare worker blowing on my skin where the skin will be punctured. Healthcare workers are commonly colonized with staph aureus, including the methicillen resistant type (MRSA) in their nasal passages so who wants SA or MRSA carried on the "dry" air (which probably has droplet moisture in it) blown onto skin? Just a thought, but if I'm the patient, keep your breath to yourself..LOL

dietcherry 2010-01-12 20:47:15 -0600 Report

In my phlebotomy clinicals, we were told to never blow on the alcohol because our breath could reinfect the site we just disinfected. Correct procedure was to to wipe in a P formation and wait for it to evaporate on its own before puncture. Renee :)

Pat Roth
Pat Roth 2010-01-12 22:58:16 -0600 Report

That is what I thought! Reminds me of a story I heard yesterday about a teen ager trying to blow out his ever lighting candles, he blew and blew and blew, his grandpa said, well I am NOT eating THAT icing!! True!!! PR

Danni-the-diabetic 2010-01-13 15:32:17 -0600 Report

I actually started using them the past couple of days, because I have been out and about, but I dry it on my pants…I dont know, but I think that may defeat the purpose. And yeah, I never like when nurses blow on my finger and then prick it - seems so gross!!

PANTOUS 2010-01-10 15:03:52 -0600 Report

I don't use them all the time, just to clean the insulin bottle. But always remember to keep your hands clean,one time I forgot to wash up and went out for breakfast checked my blood and it was low, so I ate first then 20-30 min. after I ate checked again it went up to 325!!! I was upset. I took a lot of insulin (that is when I was on shots). to get it down. I checked it 30 min. later it it was only 85!!! I knew that ment I took too much insulin. I went down all morning in the 20's and 30's. Even after eating. So please just make sure your hands are clean.

Anonymous 2010-01-10 14:21:22 -0600 Report

As long as my skin is clean I don't use any alcohol wipes. If it is dirty then I wash it. The challenge is when we are camping in the woods (primitive camping) as things can get dirty, including me and getting washed up is not a matter of going into the bathroom and turning on the tap. LOL..Still here with no infections after 30 years of this so I guess I am doing something right. (Or I have a very big angel on my shoulder.)

Hinboyz3 2010-01-10 13:57:23 -0600 Report

Im with Harlen, I use it to clean the site when doing my blood sugar testing. But I can sympathize with SkipT, you do have to be careful what types of soaps we use. I use regular antibacterial soaps all over the house.

Harlen 2010-01-10 11:32:54 -0600 Report

For me I use it for cleaning the sight I am going to use for it cleans the oil and dirt that may be there and makes it clean. For me I think it helps.
And better safe then sorry
Best wishes

SkipT 2010-01-10 11:29:25 -0600 Report

Never use them. Alcohol dries out the skin. Just wash well with warm water. A word of caution: Watch out for some of the fruity soaps. My wife had a melon soap that kicked my numbers through the roof. I use just regular hand soap now.

AddassaMari 2010-01-10 14:51:53 -0600 Report

I am with SkipT. I just do a good job washing my hand in warm soapy water. Of course I only test on fingers, so that might not be saying much.

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