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Can sunlight be used as an antiseptic?

  1. Jul 22, 2013 #1
    Sunlight contains UV radiation. UV lamps are used to destroy the reproductive organs in pathogens. Therefore, in desperate times could one remain in the sun to keep a wound clean?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2013 #2


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    Sunlight can sterilize some bacteria on the surface, but probably not within a wound. The UV lamp sterilizers that you see in hair salons, barber shops, labs, etc. emit much stronger UV radiation than what can enter the atmosphere.
  4. Jul 23, 2013 #3


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    Here. I found this on wounds.

    I would think that wound infection is more dependant upon the size and depth of the wound.

    For a small wound, how many of us have had a paper cut and it heals well on its own. Something a little more serious and a bandaid will keep it clean to some extent. Most cuts and scapes do not usually become infected whether in or out of the sun.
  5. Jul 24, 2013 #4


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    Unlikely. Remember that many pathogens already exist outside in the sunlight without dying.
    I'm sure millions upon millions of organisms have died of infected wounds over the course of Earth's history even though they've been outside in sunlight.
    You're much better off cleaning and bandaging a wound than to let it sit open.
  6. Jul 24, 2013 #5
    1) Does this mean that there are some pathogens that cannot be killed with UV radiation?

    2) Isnt the only main reason an open would could get infected (barring things like being stabbed with a dirty knife/bullet/etc) is because you would sweat and the bacteria in the sweat could reach the wound?
  7. Jul 24, 2013 #6


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    Enough UV radiation will kill just about anything. Considering that UV radiation ionizes atoms and molecules, I can't see anything surviving a large enough dose.

    Not that I know of. Bacteria and viruses are EVERYWHERE. In the air, in the water, on your skin, etc. If you get more than a tiny wound, it is very very likely to become infected if you do not take care of it. Of course, being hurt with a dirty weapon or letting the wound become filthy only magnifies the risk.
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