You may recognise Betadine as the brown liquid your parents used to put on your cuts and grazes, or as the gargle you use to help treat a sore throat, but it’s more than that. The Betadine range includes antiseptic products like lozenges, gargles, ointments, creams and sprays to help slow or stop the growth of microorganisms like bacteria. Learn more about how antiseptics work.

What are Betadine products made from?

The first Betadine products contained an ingredient called povidone-iodine. Iodine has been used as an antiseptic for over 150 years. Unfortunately, iodine on its own is irritating to the skin and stains whatever it touches. In the 1950s iodine was combined with povidone to make it water soluble and less irritating and less likely to cause stains than iodine alone. Povidone is known as a carrier – it holds the iodine and releases it a little bit at a time to do its work, so the overall solution is less concentrated and therefore less irritating and less likely to stain.

What do Betadine products do?

The povidone-iodine that makes up the majority of Betadine products is thought to be able to kill the widest range of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa) compared to other common antiseptics. So how do Betadine products work? The iodine component is the part that destroys the bacteria by disrupting the inner workings as well as the structure of bacteria. Iodine itself is a small molecule that can enter bacteria and attack key components such as the DNA, amino acids and cell walls. Once iodine gets into a cell the attack cannot be stopped. While inside iodine also helps prevent the release of toxins from the bacteria.

Bacteria, sore throats and Betadine

In the case of sore throat, bacteria are not often the cause, but your mouth and throat are host to a whole lot of bacteria. Most of these bacteria are ‘good’ or helpful, working together with your body’s own cells to promote good health. However, there is a much smaller group of bacteria considered ‘bad’ or able to make you sick. Sometimes the ‘bad’ bacteria that can cause a sore throat or other airway infections live quite happily in your throat but they are outnumbered by the ‘good’ bacteria so they don’t cause problems.

Changes to your diet, illnesses, or the use of certain medications can alter the balance of bacteria. This can result in some bacteria growing more than others, which can lead to a sore throat.

As described above the povidone-iodine in Betadine products work against a wide range of microbes. This makes it ideal when dealing with a sore throat. Read more on how to soothe a sore throat.

Using Betadine products to help prevent infection in minor cuts and wounds

The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it is the first line of defence against bacteria and other microorganisms. If you get a minor cut or wound where the skin is broken, you can help prevent infections by using an antiseptic such as Betadine.

First clean the area with a cloth that won’t leave bits behind (like a sterile gauze) then apply antiseptic according to the instructions on the label.

Using the Betadine range at home

The Betadine range includes a variety of products to suit the needs and preferences of you and your family, such as:

Sore throats

  • Betadine Ready To Use Sore Throat Gargle – an aid in the treatment of infected sore throats, this product kills bacteria fast with no dilution required and a convenient measure is included in each pack
  • Betadine Sore Throat Gargle (concentrated) – an aid in the treatment of infected sore throats that must be diluted before use, it kills bacteria fast and comes with a convenient measure in each pack
  • Betadine Anaesthetic Lozenges – contain an anaesthetic that numbs painful symptoms of a sore throat, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, mouth ulcers and relieves pain after throat, mouth or dental procedures. This product also contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient to reduce throat inflammation and swelling as well as an antibacterial to help kill the bacteria which can cause throat and mouth infections.
  • Betadine Sore Throat Lozenges – contains an antibacterial agent that helps kill bacteria which can cause throat and mouth infections while helping to soothe and relieve the discomfort of a sore throat

First aid for cuts and wounds

  • Betadine Antiseptic First Aid Cream – for grazes, minor burns and scalds and the treatment of minor skin infections. With a cream base for easy application and removal, this product is essentially non-irritating to the skin and will not permanently stain skin and natural fabrics.
  • Betadine Antiseptic Liquid Spray – for minor cuts, abrasions and minor burns and the treatment of minor skin infections.
  • Betadine Antiseptic Ointment – for the treatment of common skin infections, e.g. infections of the skin around the nails and prevention of infections in minor burns, cuts and abrasions.
  • Betadine Antiseptic Topical Solution – for minor cuts and abrasions and the treatment of minor skin infections.

Cold Sores

  • Betadine Cold Sore Ointment – for the treatment of cold scores, if applied at the first signs of a cold sore (usually an itching or tingling sensation) this product can help to check the infection.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)


As one of the first lines of defence against the outside world, the skin helps keep out bacteria and other microorganisms. If you get a minor cut, graze or burn your skin may be broken which provides an opening for microorganisms that cause infection to get inside. Using an antiseptic like Betadine helps prevent these microorganisms from entering and setting up shop.


Povidone-iodine (the main ingredient in Betadine topical solutions) is a yellow-brown colour, which gives Betadine its distinctive look.


How you apply Betadine depends on which product you are using. Check the instructions on the product label to see how to apply each formulation.


Betadine products that contain iodine are not recommended for use when pregnant. Always check the label before use to see if the product is appropriate for use during pregnancy.