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BODY WATCH | TIDBITS

Reliable Rubbing Alcohol

August 28, 1996|KATHLEEN DOHENY

It's cheap and readily available, recommended by physicians and pharmacists alike. For such an old-fashioned remedy, rubbing alcohol still gets a lot of respect. The facts:

* About 150 million pints of rubbing alcohol are sold annually in the United States.

* A 10- to 30-second alcohol rub removes most bacteria from the skin.

* Alcohol helps treat skin infections.

* It soothes sunburn.

* It is often used for sponge baths.

* It is an old standby for swabbing just-pierced ears.

* The most common rubbing alcohol sold to consumers is 70%-91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol or 70% denatured ethyl rubbing alcohol.

* Medical staff use a more concentrated solution--90% or so--when swabbing the skin before a hypodermic injection.

Sources: Dr. Bernard Raskin, Valencia dermatologist; Helen Lee, pharmacist, Longs Drugs, Tarzana; John Glade, pharmacist, Humco; Edward Griffith, Diamond Products.

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