Applicators & Swabsticks

Applicators & Swabsticks

For wound treatment, equipment maintenance, medicine application, sample collection, skin preparation, and many other tasks, a swabstick or applicator is available to do the job. Swabsticks are single-use medical devices designed for specimen collection, wound treatment, equipment maintenance, and other everyday medical duties.

How do you choose the right one for your needs? Here are some things to look for when selecting medical applicators and swabsticks.

Prep Pads

You use prep (application) pads to disinfect and cleanse the skin before medical procedures or as part of wound care. There are two kinds of prep pads -- alcohol and povidone.

Alcohol Pads

Isopropyl alcohol prep pads contain a 70% alcohol solution that kills bacteria and germs on the skin to make it sanitary and safe for injections, insulin syringes, pen needles, and lancets. These pads also clean minor wounds, like scrapes, and cuts, to prevent infection. These can be use before applying bandages and dressings, too, as the alcohol evaporates rapidly, leaving the skin dry and ready.

Look for two-ply alcohol pads for added strength and tear resistance. Also, non-woven materials are softer on the skin. Most pads are individually wrapped for single use.

Povidone-Iodine Pads

On the other hand, povidone-iodine prep pads work well for disinfecting minor cuts, abrasions, blisters, and burns. These pads contain 10% povidone-iodine, an effective topical antiseptic that restricts germ activity longer than regular iodine solutions. When looking for povidone-iodine prep pads, find latex-free ones so they can be used on everyone, including people with latex allergies.

Cotton Balls

Cotton balls come in all shapes and sizes, depending on your specific needs. The medical use of cotton products is endless. In skin preparation alone, cotton wool, cotton in its softest and fluffiest form, helps clean skin, bathing wounds, and applying liquids and creams. 100% cotton balls are perfect for topical medications and antiseptics.

On the other hand, large cotton balls are for prepping a wound before bandaging because they retain their shape and are virtually lint-free. Find ones packed conveniently in poly bags and do not cling to each other for easier use.

Cotton Tip Swabsticks

Cotton tip swabsticks or applicators are used for spreading disinfectants like iodine and alcohol across areas of the skin. When looking for cotton tip swabsticks, choose ones with a wooded shaft for a firmer grip and improved control during application. It's also helpful to find individually wrapped swabsticks for hygiene and easier use. Some swabsticks even have printed rulers in the wrapper to easily measure the application site and calculate the solution needed.

Rayon Swab

Rayon is a synthetically spun fiber made from wood pulp. It is widely used for specimen collection. Rayon swabs are ideal for diagnostic specimen collection, DNA testing, wound treatment, medicine applications, and obstetrics and gynecological uses. These are the best choice for applications where cotton is not suitable.

When selecting a rayon swab, make sure its specifications meet the strict standards for specimen collection. Also, choose shafts free from natural rubber latex for those if you have latex sensitivities.