Parent puts band-aid on child's finger

What is povidone-iodine?


Iodine is an antiseptic with a long history of use in the treatment of wounds, dating back over 170 years. It is a potent antiseptic with a broad spectrum of antimicrobial action against bacterias.

While iodine has been effective at treating wounds, early iodine preparations were associated with side effects including skin discolouration, pain and irritation.

What is povidone-iodine and how does it work?

Povidone-iodine (Betadine) is a complex of the potent bactericidal agent iodine and the carrier molecule povidone. On contact with tissues, the carrier complex slowly releases free iodine. Gradual release decreases tissue irritation and reduces potential toxicity while preserving the agent’s germicidal activity.

Povidone-iodine has many characteristics that can make it a good choice in the treatment of minor skin infections:

  • A broad antibacterial spectrum
  • Ability to break through biofilms
  • Treats minor skin infections
  • Lack of associated resistance
  • Generally well-tolerated

Broad antibacterial action

Povidone-iodine is effective against bacteria. In antibacterial testing, povidone-iodine has been shown to kill a variety of bacterial strains, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other antibiotic-resistant strains.

Breaking through biofilms

What are biofilms?

When microbes colonise a wound, they can produce what’s called a biofilm. Biofilms are formed when microorganisms such as bacteria attach themselves to a surface and create a colony. This colony forms a glue-like shield or film that can then become resistant to treatment and resistant to the body’s immune response.  Dental plaque is a commonly occurring biofilm.

It can be important that antiseptics for wound healing address biofilm formation. Povidone-iodine has been shown in multiple studies to be effective in the presence of biofilms. Therefore, it’s important that antiseptics for wound treatment address biofilm formation. Povidone-iodine has been shown in multiple studies to be effective in the presence of biofilms.

Lack of associated resistance

Povidone-iodine has been used for wound treatment for decades. No acquired associated resistance or cross-resistance has been reported to date. This lack of resistance is likely due to iodine’s multiple mechanisms of action and further supports the value of iodine for the treatment of wounds.

Well tolerated by patients.

Povidone-iodine has been generally well tolerated by patients across its use over the last 60 years. Speak to your healthcare professional to see if povidone-iodine products are right for you.

Common wounds treated by povidone-iodine around the home.

Povidone-iodine has been used around the home for the treatment of many minor wounds and infections including:

With its broad antibacterial application, povidone-iodine antiseptic has a place for the treatment of minor wounds around the home.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

Betadine is a registered trademark of Mundipharma AG, used under licence.


Learn about which Betadine product may be appropriate for you.

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