11 Shockingly Valuable Health Uses for Hydrogen PeroxideFaizan Khan
Hydrogen peroxide is like water but with more sass.
H2O2, more commonly known as hydrogen peroxide, has extra oxygen from our liquid of life, water. It is widely used in industries and homes because of its unrivaled versatility. From cleaning your wounds to making your food, it can do all.
Hydrogen peroxide is like a secret sauce that can be used anywhere with proper knowledge. Its versatility comes from the extra oxygen present in it.
This oxygen is unstable and disassociated from the compound easily, making hydrogen peroxide an excellent source for oxygen delivery. In addition, when used correctly, it can oxidize and remove stains, bacteria, and so much more!
In medicine, too, some doctors rank hydrogen peroxide above antibiotics in some cases because of its lack of side effects and mildness. One example is Dr. Duane Keller, a highly experienced dentist.
Gradually, people have started experimenting with hydrogen peroxide and found out how functional it is. As a result, various ways of hydrogen peroxide are being discovered every day.
Now, grab your set of hydrogen peroxide bottles as we explain a list of ways you can use it!
Top 11 Health-Related Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide
While there are many industrial uses of hydrogen peroxide, we have focused our list on its health-related benefits.
Following are the advantages and ways of using hydrogen peroxide over its counterparts.
1. Helps Whiten Your Teeth!
One of the noticeable qualities of hydrogen peroxide is its bleaching action. When it comes into contact with regular air and temperature, it releases extra oxygen, an excellent antiseptic and cleanser.
Your teeth are no exception. Many studies have shown hydrogen peroxide as an excellent teeth whitener. Moreover, dozens of dentists suggest using hydrogen peroxide to remove minor stains from your teeth.
Dr. Michelle McPhail, a licensed dental assistant for seven years and expert, is one of them.
“Yes, it (hydrogen peroxide) can whiten your teeth,” she says. She further adds, “it does actually remove some staining from your teeth.”
Dr. McPhail also explains how to use hydrogen peroxide to cleanse teeth:
- Get a hydrogen peroxide bottle and a toothbrush
- Dip your toothbrush into the hydrogen peroxide bottle
- Pull it out and start brushing your teeth
- Brush your teeth with hydrogen peroxide for about 1-2 minutes
And it’s as simple as that!
It is important to remember that you should use hydrogen peroxide on your teeth once a week or once every other day, not more than that.
Hydrogen peroxide may not whiten your teeth to the best of their ability, but they are proficient in removing any minor stains that you might have in between your teeth or on the superficial surface of your tooth.
2. Helps Reduce Acne
Acne is caused due to a bacterial infestation on accumulated dead skin and debris in your skin pores.
Hydrogen peroxide has excellent antiseptic and cleansing properties too. Therefore, people can use it to sterilize their faces from bacteria and debris.
However, make sure to dilute the hydrogen peroxide solution enough, so it does not damage your skin. We recommend using three tablespoons of water and one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide (most commonly available) mixture for your face.
Here is what you have to do:
- Gently wash your face with all mild, natural cleaner to remove any dirt, oil, or makeup present
- Pat your skin dry with a clean towel
- Rest your skin for 5 minutes and avoid applying any products
- Take a sterilized cotton ball and soak it in the hydrogen peroxide solution
- Gently rub it on your skin while concentrating on areas that are most affected by acne
- You may start to see some bubbling, don’t worry, as it’s harmless oxygen doing its job
- Wait for about 5 minutes or until the bubbling stops
- Wash your face thoroughly with water, and make sure to remove all the peroxide
It is essential to do these steps timely and thoroughly. If some peroxide stays on your skin for long, it may start damaging the underlying tissues.
3. Helps Disinfect Superficial Wounds
You may remember from your childhood a special “bubbly” antiseptic. That is hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide has been used vastly to clean wounds because of its excellent antimicrobial mechanism.
As aforementioned, hydrogen peroxide contains reactive oxygen, which oxidizes bacterial enzymes. And hence, the “bubbling” during wound cleaning.
Dr. Keller nicely puts the proficiency of hydrogen peroxide over other antibiotics.
He says, “..because the problem with antibiotics is that you get so many bacteria that develop a resistance to them and you have to have so much of an antibiotic to penetrate a biofilm (a collection of microorganisms).” He further adds, “whereas hydrogen peroxide is one of the few materials that will readily penetrate and get into that biofilm disease so that you can then modify the cell walls and you can begin to control that environment.”
Using hydrogen peroxide over the wound is relatively simple. All you have to do is take a sterilized cotton ball, dip it in hydrogen peroxide solution and gently apply it over your wound. Wait for the bubbling to finish before you start dressing it.
We recommend using a mild (3% or less) version of hydrogen peroxide to clean your wound. Hydrogen peroxide has massive killing action and can, in turn, damage the skin around your wound if it’s concentrated.
4. Treating Minor Ear Infections
Hydrogen peroxide works like a charm in sterilizing ear infections as well as clearing out extra ear wax.
Removing ear wax can be a tough nut to crack. The customary cotton sticks can push the ear wax further into the ear, clogging it up more.
By using hydrogen peroxide, you can safely clean out your ear. Because of its penetrating nature, it moves through the ear like a knife through butter. Furthermore, studies have shown you can even use hydrogen peroxide while having grommets or eardrum perforation.
Ear infections are caused by bacteria, and we have established how proficiently hydrogen peroxide can kill them.
- Use a syringe or dropper and fill it with hydrogen peroxide
- Move your head sideways or ask someone to drop it in your ear while you lay sideways
- Pump the solution into the ear canal by locating the triangle of skin and cartilage at the apex
- Allow it to bubble and fizz
- Tip the solution onto the tissue
- The ear canal will dry itself within the next minute or so
It’s like gurgling for ears!
It depends on you, for how long you would like the bubbling action to happen. First-timers usually can not tolerate more than 10-15 sec of fuzzy feeling. Though, we do not recommend going over 1 minute as it can be corrosive.
5. Getting Rid of Swollen Gums and Canker Sores
Swollen gums usually happen when you don’t brush or floss your teeth properly.
The human mouth is a storage house of a wide variety of bacteria and microorganisms, so everyone must brush regularly and keep their mouth clean. Unfortunately, any of them can attack and infect gums, leading to swelling and pain.
In this scenario, hydrogen peroxide can provide a viable solution. Indiana State Department of Health recommends using hydrogen peroxide to clean red, sore, or swollen gums.
Like in many other scenarios, the 3% hydrogen peroxide is used to clean your mouth thoroughly.
Here is how you can do it yourself:
- Mix three tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide and three tablespoons of water
- Swish the mixture around in your mouth for about 30 seconds
- And spit it out, DO NOT SWALLOW
- Repeat it 2 to 3 times per week until the swelling goes away
You may consider contacting your doctor if the pain remains for a few weeks after hydrogen peroxide therapy. It can be due to some underlying cause.
Saltwater is an alternative for hydrogen peroxide for treating swollen gums, but we recommend using the latter for better results.
6. Softening Calluses, Corns, and Seborrheic Keratoses
Athletes and working-class people regularly experience painful outgrowth of skin called calluses and corns. You may also see them in the fingers of a guitarist or the palm of a weight-lifter.
Calluses and corns are caused by wearing ill-fitting socks, tight shoes, not wearing socks, manual labor, or too much involvement with sports, even because of a medical condition.
Regardless of its reason, calluses and corns make your skin ugly and can be pretty painful. So here is where hydrogen peroxide can be effective.
Hydrogen peroxide acts as a natural sanitizer that cleanses your feet and hands, as well as a tissue softener. Though, we recommend using the regular 3% hydrogen peroxide for treatment.
Here is how you can perform the treatment too:
- Fill a small tub with water and add a tablespoon or so of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Mix the solution well and let it settle down
- Soak your feet in the water for fifteen minutes
- Remove the feet from the water and rinse them with plain water
- Leave your feet to dry
- Repeat the process 2-3 times per week until the callouses soften out
We also suggest using a pumice stone after you soak your feet with hydrogen peroxide. This will remove the softened dead skin, showing quicker and better results.
7. Bleaching Your Hair Safely
Hydrogen peroxide has excellent bleaching qualities and is used by many salons and spas to bleach your hairs.
Hydrogen peroxide provides a reliable way to get those goldilocks hairs without spending too much on designer products and routines.
You, too, can get a golden head this summer by following these simple steps:
- Wash your hair with a shampoo or conditioner 30 minutes before bleaching
- Make sure to air dry your strands before you start bleaching
- Section your strands using hair clips so they become more accessible to bleach
- Fill a bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide and spray each side of the section at a time until they are completely covered
- To get better results, put on a shower cap and wait for 30 minutes before you wash your hair off
- Make sure to wash your hairs after they have dried up thoroughly
Enjoy the new look!
However, make sure that hydrogen peroxide does not touch your scalp or forehead as it may irritate you during the whole procedure. You can do this by applying petroleum jelly and a cotton strip to your scalp. Moreover, make sure to use gloves while applying hydrogen peroxide to avoid unnecessary irritations.
8. Washing Your Fresh Produce and Making it Germ-Free!
Hydrogen peroxide is commonly known for its antiseptic and bleaching properties. However, some people are not aware of the fact that it shows fantastic food preservation properties too.
This can be attributed to hydrogen peroxide’s bactericidal properties. The main culprit behind food spoilage are bacteria, and to a lesser extent, fungi. The reactive oxygen of hydrogen peroxide is deadly to these novel creatures.
By finishing decomposing bacteria and fungi, fruits and vegetables can stay fresh for much longer periods. First, however, you need to make a hydrogen peroxide solution before spraying it on vegetables.
What you have to do is:
- Add one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide into a spraying bottle
- Fill the bottle with water
- Spray your green salads and vegetables before keeping them in the refrigerator
The fruit and vegetables we bring from the supermarket contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. Coli and Listeria. These are known agents to cause severe food poisoning and typhoid. Hence, you must wash vegetables and fruits before directly placing them into the fridge.
Hydrogen peroxide provides two-step protection: first against foreign bacteria like salmonella and then further against spoilage that can cause more severe diseases—keeping yourself and your fruits and vegetables fresh and healthy.
9. Disinfecting Water
Hydrogen peroxide can not only destroy the microbes present in the water, but it can also oxidize harmful minerals present in the water.
In the United States, hydrogen is used to treat individual water supplies. It is used to prevent color, taste, corrosion, and scaling linked with minerals. Furthermore, the smell and toxicity of wastewater can be treated by hydrogen peroxide as it is an excellent bactericidal agent.
Hospitals use hydrogen peroxide exclusively, too, as it is good at killing a parasite called cryptosporidiosis. This parasite is known to spread through human waste. Other purifiers such as bleach and chlorine are useless against these stubborn pathogens.
Norovirus is another extremely contagious and stubborn pathogen that can be treated through hydrogen peroxide. This virus is known to cause severe diarrhea and vomiting.
The best thing about hydrogen peroxide is its utility. It is a volatile compound, so it quickly dissociates into its byproducts and releases sweet reactive oxygen and water. This oxygen is utilized promptly in reacting with minerals, as well as increasing oxygen content in water.
However, more research is needed to know how well it works as a decontaminator.
10. Cleaning Your Toothbrush, Nail Clippers, and Other Related Items
Your toothbrush and nail clippers can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
They are places that get exposed to bacteria-rich regions of your body. Moreover, if you live with your family, the chances are that your toothbrushes are in close contact with each other in the toothbrush holders. You can spread air-borne diseases like flu and cold much easier this way. And if you are not careful, they may cause serious health consequences.
Hydrogen peroxide can provide a good solution. As we have established, it’s a remarkable disinfectant and thus can be used to clean your toothbrushes and nail clippers free of bacteria.
Here is how you can do it:
- Make a solution with one tablespoon hydrogen peroxide and 1 cup of water
- Put your toothbrush or nail clipper in the solution and shake it around for about a minute
- Clean the object thoroughly with water
You can even consider using your toothbrush without rinsing its water for a natural whitening effect on teeth.
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural killer of bacteria, and by doing this procedure, you can clean bacteria-rich objects.
You can try doing it once a week for a thorough cleaning or when someone at your home catches a contagious disease like the flu.
11. Gargling to Treat a Sore Throat
Sore throat is the scratching and hurting of the inner side of the throat. Commonly it is caused because of a bacterial or viral infection (e.g., flu and cold). However, sore throat is more commonly caused by a viral infection than a bacterial one.
Therefore, antibiotics prove useless against a sore throat if you aren’t sure that it’s a bacterial infection. Hydrogen peroxide can be beneficial in such cases because of its non-specific pathogenic action. Hydrogen peroxide directly attacks through reactive oxidation and can quickly kill viruses and bacteria alike.
Some studies even point towards evidence of hydrogen peroxide as adjuvant therapy for COVID-19.
Here is how you can gargle using hydrogen peroxide:
- Using a toothbrush, coat your teeth with hydrogen peroxide
- Take a handful of water and start to move it around
- Gargle with the water as you usually would
- Spit it out
- Do not drink the hydrogen peroxide water at any cost.
You should be careful about the last step while following this protocol.
Another reason for using hydrogen peroxide over antibiotics is that bacteria tend to get resistant to antibiotics and may become ineffective after some time. On the other hand, hydrogen peroxide is non-specific and directly destroys the bacterial cell wall through reactive oxidation. Again, a process bacteria cannot become resistant towards.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe to Use?
Hydrogen peroxide itself is a corrosive chemical that can damage your skin on contact.
However, commercially available hydrogen peroxide is a lot weaker than its original strength. Therefore, the concentration of hydrogen peroxide varies, but the most commonly used is 3% hydrogen peroxide. This means only 3% hydrogen peroxide is present in a solution while the rest, 97%, is water. At this concentration, hydrogen peroxide is a lot safer to use.
Moreover, hydrogen peroxide disassociates quickly into harmless oxygen and water. Therefore, unlike other disinfectants such as bleach, hydrogen peroxide can not lead to toxicity via its byproducts.
The Hairdressers and Beauty Suppliers Association (HBSA) has declared the use of hydrogen peroxide up to 12% strength, legal to use.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared hydrogen peroxide safe for human use at low doses.
However, precautions should be taken while using hydrogen peroxide. It is a known agent to cause skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. Burning and blistering may also occur.
Therefore, always follow safety precautions, such as wearing gloves while handling hydrogen peroxide and using petroleum jelly and cotton strips while applying them to your hair (just as in bleaching).
What Concentration Should You Use to Get the Best Results?
Hydrogen peroxide concentration directly correlates with the task at hand.
Commercially, hydrogen peroxide can be available from 0.5% hydrogen peroxide concentration to as high as 30%. Rocket fuels use 90% hydrogen peroxide.
However, for tasks relating to human contact, 3% or less concentration of hydrogen peroxide is preferred. The most commonly available hydrogen peroxide is 3%. In this article, too, we have explained its uses with regards to 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Its amount can vary from a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in a full spraying bottle (like in bleaching hairs) to using it directly from the bottle (as in teeth whitening). We have explained the hydrogen peroxide use with its required concentration in the above headings.
You should always check the hydrogen peroxide concentration before purchasing.
In addition to that, the direct use of hydrogen peroxide on the skin should not exceed three times per week. And make sure to wash your skin thoroughly after 20 minutes of hydrogen peroxide contact. The goal is to eliminate bacteria or fungus while preserving your skin and yourself. Too much hydrogen peroxide can start damaging your skin, while too little may be ineffective.
Risks and Side Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide Misuse
While hydrogen peroxide is used in many things, it can potentially cause some unwanted side effects. Some may even require medical attention.
You should immediately contact your doctor if you start seeing any pain and blisters around the contacted area.
Some of the hydrogen peroxide side-effects:
- Redness, pain, blistering, itching, swelling, or loosening of skin after the use
- Allergic reactions such as eczema and hives in some people
- In sporadic cases, eyelid swelling after direct contact of hydrogen peroxide with eyes
- Darkening/lightening of the skin tone
- Dizziness, lightheadedness after direct inhalation
- Using too much hydrogen peroxide can damage the skin inside your ear, leading to inflammation and earache
- You can get very sick if you inhale or drink hydrogen peroxide
- A potentially higher risk of cancer (though there is no conclusive evidence)
If you noticed, all of the hydrogen peroxide side effects are physical. This means they only arise if the person is not careful around the substance, e.g., directly inhaling hydrogen peroxide from the bottle.
With a proper safety protocol, you can enjoy the efficacy of hydrogen peroxide without experiencing its adverse side effects.
Hence, the uses and practicality of hydrogen peroxide outweigh its side effects if handled with precaution and care.
Hydrogen peroxide is one the most practical and versatile tools available commercially.
Like a secret potion, it can clean your wounds while it can even bleach your hair. Moreover, it can avoid food spoilage and can even disinfect your drinking water. It has shown strong evidence of being effective against COVID-19 too.
However, hydrogen peroxide’s practicality can be dangerous if you are not careful. It is a known agent to cause skin irritation in people after prolonged exposure. Moreover, it can lead to dizziness and sickness if you accidentally inhale it.
If people are careful with hydrogen peroxide’s handling, they too can enjoy its vast implications without risking anything. So grab your hydrogen peroxide bottle today!