Savlon vs Germolene vs Neosporin vs Chloramphenicol


Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
Mid Wales
I'm sure one of the experts will give you the definitive answer in a short while.

However, I have always been taught that no cream should be added to cuts. Make sure the wound is clean and, if necessary, cover with a clean dressing. I don't believe any professional medic/first aider would apply any type of cream at all unless an infection later developed.


  • Like
Reactions: oldtimer


Jan 22, 2016
Carmarthenshire, South Wales
In the 1950's as a boy playing around stupidly with a used double edged razor blade I managed to accidentally remove a 1 pence piece sized portion of the top of my right hand index finger trying retrieve the blade from my jacket pocket. As I cried out in anguish and pain an old lady living nearby, heard me and came to my aid. She took me to her kitchen where she washed my finger and the sliced off piece under the cold water tap, put a blob of germolene on the slice and popped it back onto my finger then quickly covered it with a large piece of sticking plaster and a bandage. I left it there for two weeks or so and on removing the mess in a hot bath, my finger was whole; the tip being firmly attached. It was only then when I told my mother and off to the gp we went. He was surprised that the treatment had worked and i was given further minor treatment. The scar is still faintly present today- the fingerprint on that finger is slightly out of kilter and I still have full feeling etc in that finger. (Ive heard all the jokes.) I didn't get any infection whatsoever from the well used, dirty, rusty blade which had been used to slice all sorts before it took its revenge on me.
I can only say that it worked on me in my situation but, I do think that it is reasonable to suggest that it is indeed a quality antiseptic ointment, which is still available today.(other ointments are available!) There is a tube in my 3 first aid kits-home, car and caravan.
  • Like
Reactions: Hunkyfunkster


Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
I have a small bottle of Betadine in my FAK. Not everyone agrees it's the right thing to put on a cut, but it's a very effective antiseptic for wounds and cleansing skin. I used it extensively in Thailand, where wounds can get manky very quickly, found it very effective.

Apologies for the eBay link, my wifi has dropped. Again.

Typical price is about £2.70 a bottle.
Last edited:


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
In northern Europe we do not need to use an antibiotic cream or ointment unless the wound is turning nasty.
In most cases all that should be done is to clean it with clean water, saline solution is even better. Cover with a plaster or bandage.
This on small, shallow cuts and abrasions. The deep ones, that might need suturing, need to be cleaned, bandaged, then seek professional help.

After a good cleaning, let the wound bleed for a bit. Think internal cleaning. Blood contains antibodies that will take care of bacteria.

The only wounds I would use an antibacterial cream/ointment on is wounds on the fingertips, around the nails and on the feet.
Finger and toe tips are sensitive if you get an infection, due to the anatomy they can go deeper quickly.
I personally prefer Neosporin. I carry that plus a 14 day course of Augmentin XR ( Amoxicillin plus Clavulanic acid, slow release) which is a very good broad spectrum antibiotic. I carry so I can take one tablet every 8 hours as opposed to the standard one tablet every 12 hours.
The idea is to reach an effective plasma concentration quickly, and have a high, bacteriecid concentration.

Betadine is an Iodine preparation, very good unless you are allergic or sensitive to Iodine.
As I live in the tropics where wounds are more sensitive, I use Neosporin if I have scratched or cut myself while outside.


Bushcrafter through and through
Nov 29, 2003
I'm a big germolene advocate. In my experience healing is quicker with it plus it nips starts of infection in the bud and also removes the pain. Plus it smells great. What's not to like.


Oct 6, 2003
I have two things in my first aid kit. Bactin fluid (benzalkonium chloride) and Neosporin cream (only ever seen this in US shops, not available in the UK AFAIK). The fluid is used for wound cleaning. The cream if things start to get too red and sore and look like there is infection. Nearly all my cuts are on hands where keeping clean and dry is a challenge, esp if I am on a trip. Have also used cream on toe nail related infections with good effect. I try to get the smallest size of tube for the cream, and have never got anywhere near using all of one before it has gone out of date.

Sounds like there are some good alternatives, so will give Germolene a try. I have been significantly unimpressed with Savlon cream.

I hasten to add, none of the cuts I have used these things on needed anything more than steri-strips at most. No actual stitch jobs.


Full Member
May 15, 2008
germolene for the smell. Smells like you are being healed, pure mumbo jumbo but it works for me. It is not enough that the scratch is being treated, it must smell like its being healed. Anything more than germolene will fix and I insist on the Air Ambulance!!!!


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 25, 2011
North Yorkshire, UK
Betadine (iodine) by far the best. The only reason not to use it is that some people are allergic. That is why it is not sold over the counter.
Savlon and other 'creams' can act as bacterial growth mediums once the tube is opened, plus they will prevent anything from sticking to the skin (eg, micropore).


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Iodine preparations are superb to wash wounds. Also use to decontaminate the skin before an operation.
The risk of becoming sensitive is virtually Zero when used for preop preps, quite a bit higher if used on a wound. Still, pretty small risk.
But it is pretty worthless if you get an infection, as it only does the surface.
There are other chemicals which are almost as good. Ethanol 70%, Chlorhexidine.

Hydrogen peroxide, 3% to 10% is fantastic in cleaning out debris from wounds.

If I prepared a small EDC kit for wounds I would not like to carry a liquid though. A small tube of a tri antibiotic is lighter and less fragile.

Not OTC? Speak to your GP, he will gladly give you a prescription if you explain your need.
You can also buy from abroad online, but that I would not recommend, as a huge % of medications sold online are counterfeited.
Last edited:


May 16, 2009
I use neat tea-tree oil. Is a very effective anti-bacterial + anti-fungal. Also very good at stopping itching from bites. During WW2 it used to be issued to Aussie troops in Buma/Far East to combat jungle sores.
  • Like
Reactions: Janne


Full Member
May 22, 2006
Iodine every time. Try 15% lugols solution. Drop it on cuts abrasions... it stings! It was the original antibiotic and taken orally in water (NOT NEAT ON TONGUE). It was also a recognised treatment for syphilis and other bacterial infections. You can also get a veterinary skin spray on Amazon. In WW! the Red Cross issued iodine lockets fro soldiers to wear in the trenches to reduce infection rates.


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
It was the best they had, but Iodine compounds were (and are) not that efficient in removing established infections.

Iodine was indeed used to treat Syphilis, but virtually useless. Salvarsan was the first effective drug.

Useful sites on the Internet concerning medical issues are Mayoclinic ( and webmd (
Last edited:


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 8, 2005
Was looking at the WHO emergency medical supply list,
Spreadsheet linked has the contents of a basic kit to supply 1,000 people for 3 months, the medication list is surprisingly small.

Povidone iodine sol 10% (aka Bentadine) is what's listed.


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
We've slightly diverged from the topic, but while we're there....

is a truly useful and practical book. Worth reading and committing to memory, bearing in mind the title.

There is a companion Dentistry one, but I think it'd be better Janne who is one himself, commented on it.

I read through it quickly. Tons and tons of good info and sound advice!

Of course it is intended for situations just as the name suggests, some of the treatments are not correct in our First World situation, but still.
I hope they mnage to translate and distribute it widely.


Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
But you are not in need of it in UK yet?

( just a reflection on the way they cut the NHS dentistry budget.

The only negative, (at least that online version) is those hortible pictures.
Very amateurish and reflects badly on the content.

Dental problems are hugely restricting in developing countries. Tooth ache = lower productivity. Tooth ache = eating badly = lowered health and energy.
Abscesses = see above. A very large % of childhood deaths are caused by dental abscesses.
A large % of deaths in adults the same.

I like that book because it goes into hygiene and nutrition too.
Last edited: