History of Iodine

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In the 4th Century BC, before Iodine had been discovered, Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle, used iodine-rich seaweeds to reduce the pain of sunburn.  One of the first antiseptic iodine preparations to be used in wound care was Lugol’s solution. Developed in 1829, Lugol’s contained elemental iodine and potassium in water. This solution was also used to treat wounds in the American Civil War.

The antimicrobial properties of iodine were first demonstrated in 1882 by Davaine.  In the First World War, iodine was found by Alexander Fleming to reduce the incidence of gas gangrene in the wounds of soldiers.  Since the mid-19th century, iodine-based preparations have also had an important role in the prevention of surgical site infections.  It is used as an antiseptic to prepare the patient’s skin before surgery. It is also used by surgeons and hospital staff as a skin disinfectant and antiseptic during preoperative preparation.