Old Reliables That Weren't

Do you remember Merthiolate?

Boo got an ouch yesterday.  He prefers Neosporin, which doesn't hurt,  over Iodine, which does.  I told him we didn't need to use Iodine on his particular kind of ouch (blood blister,) but maybe we should use Bactine, to make the hurt go away.

When we were little, we didn't have Bactine, which has been around since the 50's. My parents were firm believers that it had to HURT for the medicine to work.  They just didn't trust anything that didn't hurt; it couldn't possibly kill those nasty germs.

As each family has their allegiances to certain products, my mom had hers to Merthiolate.  So we didn't have Mercurochrome, which made your skin turn red.  We didn't have iodine, which made your skin turn brown.  We had Merthiolate, which turned your skin a bright, fluorescent orange.  It was the stuff that really.  REALLY.  hurt.  It made you wish you'd die from an infection or blood poisoning before you had to endure the pain of your mom swabbing your open wound with the scratchy plastic wand.  I'm sure that soldiers with blood gushing out of their wounds were glad my mom wasn't around because she would have POURED Merthiolate into the wound.

I did the old person thing of saying to Boo, "When I was your age, we didn't have all these choices and we only had MERTHIOLATE," and went on to tell him the gruesome story of this childhood torture device.

In writing this post, I did some research.
So.  Did you notice the name Mercurochrome?  Did you ever notice the similarity to the word MERCURY?  Mercurochrome is the trademark for merbromin. The molecular formula, for those of you interested, is
C20H8Br2HgNa2O6.  Notice the Hg right in the middle there?  Do you remember your periodical table from high school chemistry?  Yup.  Hg = MERCURY.

So I looked up Merthiolate.  It's the trade name for thimerosol.  Got that?  THIMEROSOL.  The controvertial preservative in vaccines?  That is a mercury compound, too:  C9H9HgNaO2S

Not only did it HURT LIKE HELL, we were being POISONED!!

So the punch line is, after I told Boo how much Merthiolate hurt, he said, "Mom, mom, it shouldn't be called Merthiolate.  It should be called HURT-thiolate."

Right on.


Lora said...

ha! I have an allergy to Neosporin, betadine, and Iodine. I usually just let the air get to whatever ails me. Although I just found out that letting your wounds air out is actually terrible, that it should always be covered and kept moist. But that sounds so filthy and problematic to me. Nothing beats a good healthy scab, says I. Wrongly.

Sometimes we had Bactine, but mostly Mercurochrome, but only when my mom didn't use it all up while tanning in the sun. Nothing makes you brown up faster than a bottle of Mercurochrome mixed into a bottle of baby oil.

Yikes, right?

DOnna B said...

Brought back memories! I remember all of them, either at my house or my grandma's! No wonder it hurt- it was poison! Don't you wonder what our kids will unearth about what we've done to them (despite our best efforts) in the years to come?

chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

I don't recall ever seeing this stuff or having it used on me...I think my mom was an adherent of Lora's "air-it-out" theory. But interestingly, when I had a mole removed a few years ago, my dermatologist told me that they have found that plain old Vaseline works as well as Neosporin because the main thing is to keep the skin protected. Now of course you've got the whole petroleum jelly thing but once it's clean there's no need for the antibacterial agents in Neosporin according to her. I thought that was interesting