Hydrogen peroxide is the brown-bottled antiseptic parents reach for every time their child falls and scrapes their knees. It bubbles and fizzes once it hits the surface of an open wound, but on a microscopic level, what is it really doing? And is it really the best way to clean a cut?

Host of YouTube's SciShow Hank Green tackled the topic in a recent video. Green explained peroxide kills "scraped-knee bacteria" by attracting electrons from their cellular membranes, essentially ripping those membranes open. The fizzing occurs when peroxide comes into contact with an enzyme called catalase, which forms water and oxygen gas. But as the antiseptic rips open bacteria membranes, it also attacks healthy cells also packed with catalase.

Cells produce hydrogen peroxide as waste when the body processes sugar, Green said, "so cells are stocked with catalase to help turn peroxide into water and oxygen before it can do any harm." Peroxide from a bottle, though, can't differentiate between wounded and healthy cells together. As an alternative, parents should consider a simple soap and water cleanse.

For more insight into the inner workings of hydrogen peroxide, watch the video above.

Published by Medicaldaily.com