A study from the University of Texas in Dallas shows that washing a wound with simple tap water does not cause more infections than washing with expensive distilled sterile saline water.

Emergency rooms in the United States store huge amounts of very expensive sterilized water to clean wounds before a doctor sews them shut. This study showed that the incidence of infections after sewing up wounds was the same whether the wounds were washed with water from the faucet or sterile saline beforehand. Tap water is loaded with bacteria, but this study shows that these germs do not appear to cause infections. The mechanical act of washing with water moves bacteria and dirt out of a wound so that the body's immunity can take care of whatever germs come in tap water, and the wound does not become infected.

Tap water for irrigation of lacerations. American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2002, Vol 20, Iss 5, pp 469-472. BC Bansal, RA Wiebe, SD Perkins, TJ Abramo. Wiebe RA, Univ Texas, SW Med Ctr, Childrens Med Ctr, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas,TX 75390 USA

Checked 8/9/05

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