This article originally appeared in Kink-E-Zine, in a column called “Private Duty” that had an ask-the-kinky-nurse format. These articles were edited by a kinky MD, Dr. Who.
Question: I always used to use technicare to clean the bottom’s skin before play piercings. But now it’s off the market, and I’m almost out! What do you recommend as an alternative? When is technicare coming back?
What, spit shining the bottom’s skin isn’t good enough for ya?
Um, I mean, yes. Technicare was fantastic stuff, and it’s very unfortunate that it’s off the market (hopefully temporarily). Sadly my status as a top shelf kinky medical advice columnist doesn’t grant me insider information regarding the availability of suspended products, so everything I know about the subject I learned from googling “Technicare”- Care-Tech Labs been saying for over 8 months that it should be back “soon.” It’s difficult to find an alternative, especially an affordable alternative- there are several options, each with its own pros and cons.
While alcohol (70 or 90% isopropyl) is very good at killing bacteria and viruses (over 99.9% effective), it is not considered adequate for surgical purposes or things like inserting IVs in hospitals. Most professional piercers don’t consider it good enough for putting big needles through people’s earlobes, navels, and clits, either (many of them used technicare in the past and are also looking for alternatives). While I know there are plenty of people out there who don’t use anything but alcohol to clean before doing play piercings, I tend to come down on the overly-cautious-borderline-OCD side of things and I don’t consider this adequate skin prep.
Betadine (also known as providone-iodine) is another common alternative. The good: it is cheap and easy to obtain. The bad: It requires a long sit time (you have to leave it to dry on the skin for at least 5 minutes for maximum effectiveness) and some people are allergic to it (though the idea of a cross-allergy between betadine and shellfish is a MYTH- some myths just never die). The ugly: It leaves a nasty yellow stain on the bottom’s skin and can also be a bit sticky. Some studies also suggest that it may contribute to scarring. You can somewhat ameliorate this by using betadine, leaving it for 5 minutes, then cleaning the area with alcohol wipes to try to get the yellow stain off. Kinda a pain in the ass, right?
My preferred alternative, and one that’s rather trendy in healthcare circles, is chlorhexidine (also called Chlora-prep). Some studies have found that it is superior to povidone-iodine and alcohol when it is used as a skin antiseptic for IV/central line placement and surgical skin prep. It goes on clear and only requires about a 30 second sit time. It also has enhanced “residual activity,” which means that it keeps preventing infection for hours after it is applied. While it is not widely available, it (along with pretty much everything else in this world) can be purchased online. However it is quite expensive, costing up to a couple bucks for a single use swab. Chlora-prep should not be used anywhere on the face or on pink parts of any kind.
Moral of the story- I’ve joined a macrobiotic pansexual pot-smoking organic drum circle to do an interpretative dance designed to entreat the kink gods to bring technicare back to the market. In the meantime, I’m using chlora-prep. That’s what I recommend you do as well.