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Cleaning wounds with tap water:
possible under certain conditions

In countries where the water is subject to strict bacteriological controls, wounds may be cleaned with tap water.

In 2003, various studies concluded that wounds cleaned with tap water were no more likely to become infected than those cleaned with sterile water or with saline solution. According to an update of these studies carried out in 2008 among nearly 1000 patients having undergone surgery, washing in the shower or in the bath was not linked to any more wound infections than occurred in patients avoiding water.

In more than 1500 adult patients and 276 children presenting simple lacerations or soft tissue wounds, the use of tap water did not lead to more infections than cleaning with saline water. The results were the same for patients treated for a chronic non-sutured wound.

Cleaning wounds with tap water does not carry the risk of infection, as long as the water supply is subject to strict controls.

©Prescrire November 2008

Source : "Nettoyage de plaies à l'eau de robinet" Rev Prescrire 2008; 28 (300): 769-770.

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