This section is from the book "Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics", by W. Hale White. Also available from Amazon: Materia Medica Pharmacy, Pharmacology And Therapeutics..
Chi3=392.56. Synonym. - Tri-iodomethane.
Small lemon-yellow, lustrous crystals of the hexagonal system, having a peculiar, very penetrating and persistent odor somewhat resembling that of Saffron and Iodine, and an unpleasant, slightly sweetish, and Iodine-like taste. Solubility. - Very slightly in water; soluble in 52 parts of Alcohol; freely in fixed and Volatile Oils, Ether and Chloroform. It con tains 96.7 per cent. of Iodine.
Dose, 1 to 3 gr.; .06 to .20 gm.
Iodoform is anaesthetic, antiseptic and disinfectant, if we may judge by the results obtained in clinical practice; but the experimental evidence that it has no power to hinder the development of Staphylococcus pyogenes, Bacillus subtilis, and other micro-organisms, is very strong, for all, except one or two experimenters state that it has no antiseptic properties. The reason for these discrepancies is this: Iodoform only acts as an antiseptic after its decomposition, which results in the liberation of free iodine. The fats always present in tissues dissolve it. When dissolved it is easily decomposed by many agents, such as light, oxygen, living cells, or ptomaines, which would have no effect on it if it were undissolved. By one or more of these it is, when dissolved after having been dusted upon a wound, slowly decomposed. Iodine is thus set free rapidly enough to act as an antiseptic, but not rapidly enough to act as an irritant.
Not much is known about the internal action of iodoform. It is eliminated in all the secretions, but chiefly in the urine, as iodine, iodides, and iodates. They may be found in the urine for three days after administration of iodoform.
Iodoform is much used as a local stimulant, antiseptic and disinfectant. The clinical testimony as to its value is overwhelming. Before using, since iodoform itself, as above explained, is not antiseptic, it must be disinfected by washing in a 1 to 2000 solution of corrosive mercuric chloride and preserved while damp, in closed, sterile jars.
Its anaesthetic influence diminishes the pain, if there is any, of the sores to which it is applied. It is an excellent application for all sorts of ulcers, sores and wounds, but especially for tuberculous and syphilitic ulcerations and chancres. Powdered iodoform is usually dusted upon them. Wounds and venereal sores are often painted with a solution of it in collodion (1 in 12 of flexible collodion). This is an excellent application. Mixed with bismuth subnitrate, it is useful as an insufflation (iodoform, 1; starch, 2;) for ozaena, ulcers of the mouth and throat, and tuberculous ulcers of the larynx. Often 1/3 gr. .02 gm. of morphine acetate is added. An emulsion (iodoform, moistened with alcohol, 1; boiling water, 2; glycerin, 7;) is very useful for injection into sinuses, abscess cavities, etc. It has been used in the form of a bougie for the urethra and for the nose. The suppository B. P., each 3 gr.; .20 gm., in 12 gr.; .80 gm. of oil of theobroma is useful in painful conditions of the rectum. It is occasionally employed for pruritus, and to relieve the pain of neuralgia. Many attempts have been made to get rid of its odor; balsam of Peru, musk, or creolin (2 per cent.) have been used, but oil of geranium (1 to 25) is best. Some believe that the odor of iodoform is preferable to that of musk. By keeping a Tonka bean or ground roasted coffee with it, the odor is lessened.
Iodoform has not been found to be of any use internally. It has been tried unsuccessfully in phthisis and many other conditions.
Curious symptoms, often severe and sometimes ending in death, are occasionally observed after the application of iodoform to a raw surface. They are a quick pulse, gastro-intestinal irritation, fever, rapid collapse, melancholia, hallucinations, dilated pupils, extensive erythema and perhaps eczema. These symptoms vary much in severity, and it is rare for more than two or three of them to be present at once. Fatty degeneration of the liver and muscles may occur.
Stimulants, diaphoretics and sponging the skin with warm water are recommended.