Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe?
Using hydrogen peroxide internally or in high strengths can be dangerous, but low strengths can also cause serious problems. Even using it for wound care is not always effective or safe; in fact, hydrogen peroxide is no longer the preferred product for wound care. If you have a puncture wound, deep wound, or severe burn, talk to your healthcare provider before using this product.
When used appropriately, hydrogen peroxide is probably safe in most situations. However, certain circumstances may be more likely to result in serious problems. Therefore, you should talk with your healthcare provider prior to using hydrogen peroxide in one of the following ways:
- By mouth, IV, or enema
- In any strength higher than 3%
- In a deep wound, puncture wound, or serious burn.
Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of hydrogen peroxide include the following:
- According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people should not purchase or use high-strength hydrogen peroxide products (including 35% "food grade" hydrogen peroxide) for medicinal use because they may cause serious harm or death.
The FDA further warns that high-strength hydrogen peroxide is not approved by the FDA for any purpose and that "no one has presented any evidence that hydrogen peroxide taken internally has any medical value."
- If you choose to disregard the FDA warning and use high-strength hydrogen peroxide, take extra care to keep it out of the reach of children and pets. Label it very clearly so that others know they should not use it undiluted. Of course, lower-strength hydrogen peroxide should also be kept out of reach of children and pets, as it, too, can be dangerous, especially if used incorrectly.
- There have been reports of serious adverse reactions when hydrogen peroxide was taken by mouth, by IV, or in enemas. Although problems are more likely when high-strength (undiluted) concentrations are used, even standard, household-strength (3%) hydrogen peroxide can cause serious side effects (see Hydrogen Peroxide Side Effects for more information).
- If you have a deep wound, a puncture wound, or a serious burn, check with your healthcare provider before using this substance for wound care. Serious wounds probably need more effective care (hydrogen peroxide is no longer a preferred product for wound care).
- Standard household strengths of hydrogen peroxide (3% or less) are generally safe for wound care or for occasional use as a mouthwash (for wound care in the mouth).