I had an interesting conversation with a couple of coworkers the other day. We started talking about the joy of skinned knees in childhood. Remember how messed up your knees (and palms and elbows) could get from falling on the cement? How often did we run home yelling, dripping blood all the way?
Our moms were staunch believers in iodine (applied after washing the area thoroughly with a soapy washcloth) as the first line of defense against infection. I wonder, was it really sanitary to use the stick in the bottle (attached to the lid) over and over again on our wounds? They didn't wash it before putting it back into the solution, did they?
My mom had an especially brutal tool in her arsenal: a big red spray bottle of merthiolate. This stuff was bright red in color, went on cold, and, no lie, hurt more than iodine. I remember seeing commercials for Bactine, which was supposed to be painless. I begged Mom to buy it, but she insisted we had to use up all of the merthiolate first. I don't think we ever did, and I'll bet she still has that red bottle somewhere, ready to torment me at the first opportunity.
Turns out that merthiolate is actually one and the same product as thimerosal. Thimerosal is the antibacterial, anti-fungal preservative that is being eliminated from vaccines and other products because of safety concerns. Apparently, it's almost 50% mercury. Thanks mom.
As for the skinned knees, I am told that today's kids mostly miss out on that bit of fun. Seems they play inside more than out, and are less active in general. Pity. Nothing quite beats the glory of skinned knees, wounds earned on the field of childhood play.