Mercurochrome, A Parent’s Favorite Antiseptic And Kid’s Nightmare, Won’t Be Around Anymore

No child wanted to get caught with a wound and face this painful antiseptic
No child wanted to get caught with a wound and face this painful antiseptic / Wikipedia
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Anyone who grew up in the ’60s and ’70s quickly learned the importance of discretion. That’s because if parents or grandparents should spot a scrape or cut, they’d break out the mercurochrome. No one wanted that. Fortunately, for kids now, the stuff won’t be around any time soon.

Using mercurochrome involved practices that would – and do – make modern medical officials cringe. They’re not the only ones, though. A dab of this stuff was enough to make any child wince and caused the injury to sting more than it did at the time of impact. But a lot of these things contributed to getting this bottle off the shelves.

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Fall back onto mercurochrome

Many children have an insatiable desire to run around and roughhouse. This will inevitably lead to bumps, scrapes, cuts, and the like. Often, kids shrug it off and go on with playing. But parents or grandparents who spot an open injury swooped down with a bottle of mercurochrome.

RELATED: Things All People Who Grew Up In The ’70s Will Remember Vividly

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They’d dab it onto the wound with the applicator, causing a stinging sensation. People who grew up exposed to the stuff recalled, “Burned like hell… I remember saying the cut was fine to do my damnedest to avoid this stuff.” Ultimately, these people concluded, “this was worse than the scrape/cut!

Safety first…or…not?

As the decades went on, mercury poisoning became a real concern
As the decades went on, mercury poisoning became a real concern / Flickr

Another comment notes, “My grandma has this stuff too! As a Nurse, I cringe at the idea you use the “stick” on your wound then shove it back in the bottle to reuse… we all survived though.” An immediate reply reads, “I love how we never thought about that. Pretty sure nothing was surviving in that bottle of 30% rubbing alcohol but I cringe now too!” Yes, mercurochrome has plenty of alcohol to get those cuts burning hotter than hell. But, Index-Journal writes, it also contained mercury, hence the name.

If Mercurochrome shouldn’t have been around, why was it? Well, safety regulations did not exist as we know them today. A few things went under the radar and for years, mercurochrome got the label, “generally recognized as safe.” When the FDA started cracking down on stuff – especially ones that might cause mercury poisoning – substances needed to go through testing. Mercurochrome never did, so it could not reside on pharmaceutical shelves anymore. Because other antiseptics arose to prominence, analysts believe no one will really try and perfect and test mercurochrome in the future, anyway.

What do you think?

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