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TCP antiseptic liquid

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

TCP is an antiseptic used in the treatment of cuts, grazes, bites & stings, spots, sore throats, and mouth ulcers. It has antiseptic and pain-relieving properties and has been the long-standing brand associated with antiseptic, with a history of use that dates back to 1918. The ingredients in it have changed over time, and the TCP available today contains phenols, which have been in use since its reformulation in the 1950s. It has a distinct smell that many people associate with surgical disinfectant.

TCP vs other antiseptics


TCP contains trichlorophenylmethyliodosalicyl, while Savlon typically includes chlorhexidine gluconate and cetrimide. TCP, in its liquid form, is often preferred for wound disinfection due to its potency. Savlon, available as a cream, is more commonly used for general skin hygiene and may be preferred for soothing minor skin irritations.

Hand Gels (Alcohol-Based)

TCP's active ingredients differ from alcohol-based hand gels, which typically contain ethanol or isopropyl alcohol. Hand gels are convenient for quick hand disinfection, especially when water and soap are not available. TCP is more versatile and suited for wound care, offering a broader range of antimicrobial activity.

Iodine-Based Antiseptics

Povidone-iodine contains iodine, which differs from TCP's formulation. Iodine-based antiseptics are often used for surgical preparations and may have a broader antimicrobial spectrum compared to TCP. TCP, with its iodine component, is effective but may be considered less broad-spectrum.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound with different properties than TCP. Both are used for wound care, but hydrogen peroxide is known for its bubbling action, aiding in debris removal. TCP is often favored for its potency in wound disinfection.


Chlorhexidine is a different chemical compound with distinct properties compared to TCP. Chlorhexidine provides persistent antimicrobial activity and is commonly used in medical settings. TCP, while effective, may not have the same prolonged effect as chlorhexidine. It is used in mouthwashes in mouth conditions.

Tea Tree Oil

TCP contains trichlorophenylmethyliodosalicyl, whereas tea tree oil is a natural oil derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant. Tea tree oil is used in diluted forms for its natural antimicrobial properties and soothing qualities. TCP, being a synthetic antiseptic, may be preferred for its precise formulation. Used in facial and cosmetic products as a natural antiseptic.

Alcohol-Based Antiseptics (e.g., Rubbing Alcohol)

Rubbing alcohol typically contains ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, differing from TCP's formulation. Alcohol-based antiseptics are fast-evaporating and convenient for quick disinfection. TCP may have a more sustained effect due to its liquid form.

How does it work?

TCP contains the active ingredients phenols and halogenated phenols. These have antimicrobial properties against a wide range of germs that can cause infection. Phenols also have pain relieving and numbing properties which can be useful for treating sore throats.

How do I use it?

Follow the instructions on the back of the bottle for accurate dosing and dilution. TCP should be diluted with water before using to treat cuts, grazes, bites, and stings, then applied gently with a clean cloth. It should also be diluted before gargling to treat a sore throat. When TCP is gargled, it should not be swallowed.

It can be dabbed on directly, without diluting with water, to treat mouth ulcers and spots.

Should anybody not use it?

It should not be used in young children to treat a sore throat, as young children may be unable to gargle safely without accidentally ingesting it. TCP should be avoided if you have a sensitivity to any of the ingredients listed. It should be avoided in allergic skin conditions such as an allergic rash. You should not use TCP to treat mouth ulcers if they have been present for longer than 14 days. In this case, you should seek the advice of your doctor first.

What do I do if I accidentally swallow TCP

If you accidentally swallow 30ml of TCP or more, you should drink 0.5 to 1 litre of water immediately to dilute it. If any discomfort persists, seek medical attention. Ingestion of TCP is unlikely to cause any serious side effects.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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