Purpose of Decolorized Iodine

Written by alexander kennard
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Purpose of Decolorized Iodine
Decolorized iodine can be used to clean wounds. (flesh wound image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com)

Decolorized iodine, sometimes called "white iodine," is an antiseptic used to clean wounds and burns. It has also a folk remedy used to treat weakened nails and patchy hair loss. Decolorized iodine is available over the counter at most pharmacies. Red iodine is the coloured version of decolorized iodine. Red iodine came before decolorized iodine and performs the same functions.

Cuts and Burns

Decolorized iodine is most commonly used to clean cuts and burns, as the older red iodine was. When cuts and burns are exposed to the elements, they can become infected and may be painful. Decolorized iodine protects from both of these concerns. To apply decolorized iodine to a cut or burn, clean the wound, put a couple of drops in a cloth or cotton ball and then rub on the affected area.


Thin or weak nails may be thickened and strengthened by applying decolorized iodine. Apply using a cotton swap to the tip of the nails. If the nail is painted apply to the bottom of the tip; if the nail is clean apply to the top. Leave the decolorized iodine on the nail overnight for one week. Avoid soapy water and products containing hydrogen peroxide. The effectiveness of decolorized peroxide on weakened nails has not be scientifically proven.

Patchy Hair Loss

Patchy hair loss, otherwise called alopecia areata, can be sudden and unexpected. The cause of alopecia areata is unknown, making treatment difficult. Decolorized iodine is used as a folk remedy to reduce hair loss. Apply decolorized iodine to bald patches using a cotton swab. The effectiveness of decolorized iodine on patchy hair loss has not been scientifically proven.


Red iodine performs the same functions as decolorized iodine. However, red iodine can stain and dye clothing and skin whereas decolorized iodine does not. This makes decolorized iodine more useful in treating areas that may otherwise have been discoloured.


Some people have an allergy to iodine. Please discuss iodine treatment with your doctor before using it to ensure that you will not suffer any adverse side effects. Your local pharmacist should also be able to answer any questions about decolorized iodine that you may have.

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