In the last few months I have had a rash of patients come in to the office describing the usage of green alcohol for just about every foot ailment under the sun. Patients have attempted using this product for the relief of pain from ingrown nails, ankle sprains, bunions and pretty much anything else you could think of that could happen to your feet. Their story almost always ends with “Doc, I even tried green alcohol on it, but even that didn’t work.”  Not having any idea what this product is, I decided to do some research.

Green alcohol is an inexpensive product available over the counter at most drug stores. It usually contains a high percentage of isopropyl alcohol with other additives, including methyl salicylate and wintergreen. As with any alcohol based product, it may have some benefit in cleansing minor cuts and scrapes to help prevent infection.  Soaking the foot in this product will cause irritation and drying of the skin and should be avoided. Salicylate is the pain relieving ingredient in aspirin. This additive may allow green alcohol to provide some short term pain relief for minor aches and pains, but over the counter motrin or tylenol are likely to be more effective. It does have a nice wintergreen odor, but this does not provide any therapeutic effect that I know of.

Now as for green beer… well that’s a completely different subject all together. Have a happy & safe St. Patrick’s Day Savannah!

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