ATC Code D08AG02, D09AA09, D11AC06, G01AX11, R02AA15, S01AX18
Physical State solid
Melting Point (°C) 300
CAS Number 25655-41-8
PUB Number 410087
Drugbank ID DB06812
Solubility soluble in water


Povidone-iodine (PVP-I) is an antiseptic used for skin disinfection before and after operations and minor surgical procedures. It can be used to disinfect both the hands of the nursing staff and the skin of the person being cared for. It is also used to disinfect minor wounds. It is usually applied to the skin as a liquid or, less commonly, as a powder.



Povidone iodine is referred to as an iodophore, meaning that povidone acts as a carrier only for the elemental iodine it contains. Iodine is considered to be the active moiety that mediates the microbicidal activity. When released from the complex, free iodine rapidly penetrates the cell wall of microorganisms, and the effect is thought to result from disruption of protein and nucleic acid structure and synthesis. The exact mechanism at the molecular level is not fully understood.


Povidone-iodine is applied topically (on the skin) only. It is not used systemically and therefore no data on absorption, metabolism, excretion, etc. are available.


The iodine in PVP-I reacts with hydrogen peroxide, silver, taurolidine, and enzymes, rendering them (and itself) ineffective. It also reacts with many mercury compounds, producing the corrosive compound mercuric iodide, and with many metals, making it unsuitable for disinfecting metal piercings.


Side effects

Side effects include skin irritation and sometimes swelling.

When used on large wounds, kidney problems, high blood sodium, and metabolic acidosis may occur.

Use is not recommended in women before 32 weeks of pregnancy and in people taking lithium.

Frequent use is not recommended in people with thyroid problems.

Toxicological Data

LD50 (mouse, oral): 8100 mg-kg-1

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Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter is a writer on pharmaceutical topics in Medikamio's medical editorial team. He is in the last semester of his pharmacy studies at the University of Vienna and loves scientific work in the field of natural sciences.

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Stefanie Lehenauer has been a freelance writer for Medikamio since 2020 and studied pharmacy at the University of Vienna. She works as a pharmacist in Vienna and her passion is herbal medicines and their effects.

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