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View Full Version : Sterilizing a pair of tweezers


sweeteviljesus
04-09-2012, 05:38 PM
This weekend I got a tick on me during a visit to the Sam Houston National Forest. It wasn't engorged and when my wife removed it, there was no blood. She insisted that the tweezers used to remove the tick (from an Adventure Medical Kits .3 kit) now need to be boiled for a certain length of time to sterilize them. What would this kill that soaking in alcohol, exposing to open flame, or just bringing the water to a boil will not? I understand that there are some organisms that won't die at 100 degrees C, but I don't know how many of them are pathogenic to humans or if they are the kind of thing you would get on tweezers from removing a tick or that there is a strong need to sterilize a pair of tweezers from a first aid kit. What's the straight dope?

Thanks,
Rob

Qadgop the Mercotan
04-09-2012, 05:43 PM
Wipe it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and let it dry. That's sufficient to treat 99.999% of human pathogens. Especially since hopefully this tweezers is not going to be used in any truly invasive procedures, such as those taking place inside the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, or cranium.

figure9
04-09-2012, 05:48 PM
Do not expose a good pair of tweezers to an open flame. It may anneal (soften) the metal.

sweeteviljesus
04-09-2012, 05:51 PM
What pathogens will alcohol not kill?

Thanks,
Rob

Qadgop the Mercotan
04-09-2012, 05:57 PM
What pathogens will alcohol not kill?

Thanks,
Rob
Spore-forming bacteria mainly. When they're in their spore form. It lyses the hell out of bacterial that aren't all walled up.

And most bacteria aren't too pathogenic in spore form.

Don't worry about it.

sweeteviljesus
04-09-2012, 06:05 PM
I'm not, but she's grossed out by the ticks and is, in my opinion, being overly cautious about the whole thing. She has an BSN and insists whatever procedure it is that she has in mind. I will probably let her do it because she has been accusing me lately of thinking her unintelligent, but I thought I'd check to see whether or not I was full of shit (so I could tell her she's right and make her feel better).

Thanks,
Rob

AaronX
04-10-2012, 02:32 AM
100C alone isn't enough to kill all bacteria, that's why autoclaves use pressure and steam.

grude
04-10-2012, 03:08 AM
100C alone isn't enough to kill all bacteria, that's why autoclaves use pressure and steam.

Which is not required for a pair of tweezers going to be used to remove a tick.

Tabby_Cat
04-10-2012, 03:32 AM
Wouldn't the tick probably be more un-sterile than the tweezers?

Lynn Bodoni
04-10-2012, 04:06 AM
Wipe it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and let it dry. That's sufficient to treat 99.999% of human pathogens. Especially since hopefully this tweezers is not going to be used in any truly invasive procedures, such as those taking place inside the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, or cranium. Good to know, since that's what I've been doing with my tweezers. I do use the tips to dig out ingrown hairs, but nothing more invasive for that.

That's what X-Acto blades are for. :D

Wouldn't the tick probably be more un-sterile than the tweezers? My impression is that the OP's wife thinks that the tweezers are now Unclean after using them for tick removal, and the OP wants to know how to get them Clean again. I, personally, have my own standards of Clean and Unclean. Usually I restore things to Clean status by running them through the dishwasher or washing machine. Obviously, not all objects can withstand this.

Mangetout
04-10-2012, 04:08 AM
Be careful not to squeeze the body of a tick when removing it, as this may cause it to eject the contents of its stomach into you - and this can cause nasty infections. Splinter-removal tweezers with needle-like points are best - hold them level with the skin and grasp the tick across the nearest point to your skin, then pull steadily without crushing it - they will usually let go in preference to being pulled apart.

Keep an eye on the spot where the tick was - if it becomes inflamed, see a doctor immediately.

ETA: (I realise the OP's tick is already removed)

AaronX
04-10-2012, 04:40 AM
Which is not required for a pair of tweezers going to be used to remove a tick.

Well if you're going for overkill, you might want to go further.

Woodenspoon
04-10-2012, 05:00 AM
yea you'd be better off boiling something like your kitchen sponge;)

the tweezers aren't that dangerous

Ike Witt
04-10-2012, 08:17 AM
Especially since hopefully this tweezers is not going to be used in any truly invasive procedures, such as those taking place inside the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, or cranium.
I promise nothing!

Leaffan
04-10-2012, 08:25 AM
In Dinah-Moe Humm, Frank Zappa suggests using a lighter.

Musicat
04-10-2012, 08:32 AM
In Dinah-Moe Humm, Frank Zappa suggests using a lighter.Now you tell me! Zircon-encrusted tweezers aren't sterile?

johnpost
04-10-2012, 08:36 AM
cleaning the tweezers with soap is all that might be needed before putting them away. alcohol wipe would be ok if they look clean.

they will become unsterile quickly in storage.

sterile is an issue before they touch an open wound.

Qadgop the Mercotan
04-10-2012, 04:12 PM
sterile is an issue before they touch an open wound.
Mainly if you plan to close the wound up with sutures. An open one will usually drain quite nicely should an infection develop. Clean instruments usually suffice when sterile ones aren't available.

Besides, most open wounds have already gotten quite filthy by the time one gets to the doctor. Unless said open wound was inflicted in an OR suite using sterile instruments. Meanwhile, the doc will disinfect the open wound with stuff that works a lot like the isopropyl alcohol used to clean the tweezers, then close it up.

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