Best Evidence Topics
  • Send this BET as an Email
  • Make a Comment on this BET

Do povidone-iodine (betadine) soaked dressings reduce the rate of infections in open wounds?

Three Part Question

In [patients awaiting wound closure] does the [application of an inadine soaked dressing] reduce the [incidence of wound infection]?

Clinical Scenario

A 25 year old man attends A&E in the early hours with a deep knife wound to his forearm. The plastic surgeon wants to take him to theatre for exploration the following morning and asks for a betadine (povidone-iodine) dressing to be applied. The wound looks clean and you wonder if this is likely to alter the likelihood of the wound becoming infected.

Search Strategy

BNI 1985 - present
Medline 1950 - present
Cinahl 1981 - present
[exp betadine OR iodine OR inadine OR povidone-iodine] AND [wound OR wound infection OR infection] Limit to human and english language

Search Outcome

No papers were identified which directly answered the above question. One literature review was identified summarising the role of povidone-iodine in wound management.


We have been unable to identify a study which answers the given question. There are numerous in vitro studies demonstrating the anit-bacterial properties of povidone-iodine as well as research into it's use in elective surgery and chronic wound management. There is some debate as to whether povidone-iodine adversely effects wound healing.

Clinical Bottom Line

Although there are no studies looking at the use of povidone-iodine in the acute setting it would seem reasonable to continue it's use. It is unlikely to cause harm and has been shown to be beneficial in elective surgery at reducing infection rates.