Dollop it on. I can take it. And whatever happened to mercurochrome?

panadol_knee-previewMy old man was of the school that held that unless the cure for an affliction, contusion, and abrasion was more excruciatingly painful than the wound itself it wasn’t going to do you a lick of good.

idodineAs a consequence he was a great believer in the wonders of liberal iodine use on a cut. Any kind of cut or abrasion and out would come the nasty little brown tincture bottle. I did like the fact it had a little skull-and-crossbones logo on it, but otherwise it hurt like bejesus when applied.

Dad thought it was the real-deal because it kind of cauterized the surrounding flesh. So did a branding iron, but blessedly he didn’t go in that direction. He also didn’t allow me the compassionate option of biting on a bullet, however.

Mercurochrome-300x268To be envied were the kids who got to treat their wounds with Mercurochrome. Now, that stuff was kind of wimpy because it didn’t really hurt at all, but what it did do was leave a big livid stain so that it made a kid’s simple abrasion assume the magnitude of a gaping wound.

Do they still make that stuff? Haven’t seen it in years.

If I went to my mom with a cut it was a less painful process. She used a disinfectant called Dettol. It didn’t hurt, but it smelled like a hospital corridor. Somehow the use of these lesser solutions took a bit of the charm out of cuts and abrasions of boyhood.

You see, injury and pain and the obvious symbols thereof are vital talismans of courage to the young male child. Parents, especially moms, should be aware of that reality.

And remember, no matter how teeny the ‘owie’, make sure it is accorded a big honking bandage. And if that bandage were to get soaked with seeping blood, so much the better.

Once when I was a kid my youngest brother fell down the back steps and broke his arm. He was forced to wear a cast and had to support the arm with a sling.

He was kind of a wimp and he hated it.

But my other brother and I were green with envy. To be able to go to school with your arm in a sling would give you unimaginable social cachet – we believed.

When we were in 10th grade a good friend of mine was in a car crash. He went through the windshield and was banged up pretty good. He was off school for a few days, and when he came back, wearing dark glasses due to cuts around his eyes, and walking with a cane we thought it was the coolest thing imaginable. And as he strode through the cafeteria a sizeable throng began to follow him, wanting to know about the accident. He was a bit like a rock star.

I believe iodine fell out of favor a few years ago due to the fact that it actually does burn the flesh and arguably did more harm than good. But there was a time when every macho-aspiring lad was willing to bear the pain of that bottle because it offered so much panache potential.


6 responses to “Dollop it on. I can take it. And whatever happened to mercurochrome?

  1. Mercurochrome had mercury in it, so someone eventually said “wait, this shit’s got mercury in it!” and they stopped encouraging people to put it on open wounds. I think ~ but I don’t know for certain, and am too lazy to go look it up ~ it may even be illegal to transport across state lines. But again, that might be urban legend. We had a bottle of the stuff in our medicine cabinet for years, though.

    Also, I recently had to keep my arm in a sling for a little less than a week. It was amazing how many adults still thought it was cool. Perhaps, at heart, we are all still adventurous kids who want to be able to show off the war wounds.

  2. I loved mecurochrome. My mom would draw hearts and flowers on my cuts. It was the height of cool. And yes, mercury. And we’re all still alive. Go figure.

  3. I grew up with my Depression-era grandparents and at the ripe young age of 28, I know all about good ‘ol mercurochrome. My grandfather used it on all of us kids and nothing worked as well, plus it made your cuts look seriously severe! The funny thing is, he had the same bottle of Hospital brand my whole life and he ran out…went out of town, and there was a brand new bottle, mercury and all (I checked)! Supposedly here in VA you can still find it at some old pharmacies in small towns and out in the country- the kind of pharmacies that still serve lunch and malts- stock they didn’t want to throw away when it got banned in ’08 so they’re just selling what’s left….Just a rumor, though….

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