Chlorhexidine Antiseptic: Uses and Side Effects

Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic solution commonly used for skin disinfection before surgical procedures and as a mouthwash to reduce dental plaque. It works by disrupting the bacterial cell membrane. Chlorhexidine is available in various formulations.
Where to get
Over-the-counter and prescription formulations
Prepared by Shruti Sahoo, reviewed by Dr. Eugene Smith

Chlorhexidine FAQ

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What is chlorhexidine used for?

Chlorhexidine is a disinfectant and antiseptic with the molecular formula C 22 H 30 Cl 2 N 10, which is used for skin disinfection before surgery and to sterilize surgical instruments. It is also used for cleaning wounds, preventing dental plaque, treating yeast infections of the mouth, and to keep urinary catheters from blocking.

What bacteria does chlorhexidine kill?

Chlorhexidine is active against Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms, facultative anaerobes, aerobes, and yeasts. It is particularly effective against Gram-positive bacteria (in concentrations ≥ 1 μg/L). Significantly higher concentrations (10 to more than 73 μg/mL) are required for Gram-negative bacteria and fungi.

What are the side effects of chlorhexidine?

You or the person who's unwell may also have a rash that's swollen, raised, itchy, blistered or peeling. These can be signs of a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital. These are not all the side effects of chlorhexidine.

Can I use chlorhexidine at home?

Some of the chlorhexidine products will be used in a hospital or clinic setting. The medicine will be applied by a nurse or other trained health professional. You may be instructed to use this medicine at home. It is very important that you use this medicine only as directed by your doctor.

How does chlorhexidine help a sore throat?

Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic and disinfectant. It helps reduce the number of germs (bacteria) in your mouth or on your skin. Chlorhexidine is usually combined with other ingredients. Some sore throat treatments have a local anaesthetic to help numb pain. Mouth and throat treatments come as mouthwashes, lozenges, gels and sprays.

When should I use chlorhexidine oral rinse?

Chlorhexidine oral rinse should be used after you have brushed and flossed your teeth. Rinse the toothpaste completely from your mouth with water before using the oral rinse. Do not eat or drink for several hours after using the oral rinse.

Should chlorhexidine be used in healthcare settings?

Chlorhexidine-containing antiseptic and disinfectant products are widely used in health care, aged care and in the community. This guidance outlines considerations for the appropriate and safe use of chlorhexidine in healthcare settings. There is emerging evidence that some microorganisms have developed tolerance and resistance to chlorhexidine.

Chlorhexidine References

If you want to know more about Chlorhexidine, consider exploring links below:

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