Side effects of chlorhexidine (topical route) (2023)

Description and markings

Drug information provided by:IBM Micromedex

american brand

  1. Betasept
  2. Bioparche com chlorhexidingluconate
  3. clorostato
  4. Dyna-Hex
  5. Dyna-Hex2
  6. Hibiclens
  7. inhibits
  8. Operand Chg Surgical Brush
  9. Operational Chlorhexidine Luconate
  10. operand closed loop change debugging

canadian brand

  1. stanhexidine solution
  2. Stanley Clorhexidina
  3. Stanley Clorhexidina ungetönt


Chlorhexidine belongs to a group of drugs called antibacterial antiseptics. It is used to clean the skin after an injury, before surgery or before an injection. Chlorhexidine is also used to wash hands before a procedure. It works by killing bacteria on the skin or preventing them from growing.

This product is available in the following dosage forms:

  • solution
  • Liquid

Before using

When deciding to use a medication, the risks of taking it must be weighed against the benefits. This is a decision for you and your doctor to make. For this drug, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic or unusual reaction to this medicine or any other medicine. Also, tell your doctor if you have other types of allergies, such as B. against food, dyes, preservatives or animals. For over-the-counter products, read the label or packaging ingredients carefully.


Due to the potential of chlorhexidine to cause excessive skin irritation and the risk of increased skin absorption, its use in children younger than 2 months is not recommended.


There is no information about the association of age with the effects of chlorhexidine in geriatric patients.

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Interactions with other drugs

While certain drugs should not be used together, in other cases, two different drugs can be used together, although an interaction may occur. In these cases your doctor may change the dose or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your doctor if you are taking any other prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

Other interactions

Certain medications should not be used at or around the time of eating or eating certain types of food because interactions may occur. The use of alcohol or tobacco with certain drugs can also cause interactions. Talk to your doctor about using medications with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medication. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have any other medical issues, especially:

  • Deep or open skin wounds: Some products should not be used in this condition. Use the medication only as directed by your doctor.

correct use

Some of the chlorhexidine products are used in hospitals or clinics. The medicine will be given by a nurse or other trained health professional.

You may be instructed to use this medication at home. It is very important that you use this medication only as directed by your doctor. Do not use more, do not use more often, and do not use longer than directed by your doctor. Otherwise, skin irritation may occur.

Different forms of the drug are used in different ways. Make sure you understand the instructions for the product you are receiving before using it. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns.

Follow your doctor's instructions for cleaning and caring for your skin before and after using this medication. Make sure you understand all instructions and ask questions if you feel something is unclear.

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Chlorhexidine should only be used on the skin. Do not swallow or get in eyes, ears, mouth or nose. Do not use in the genital area (sexual organs) or in the anal area. If you come into contact with these areas, rinse immediately.


The dose of this medicine is different for different patients. Follow your doctor's or label instructions. The information below only includes the average doses of this medication. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to.

The amount of medicine you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time between doses, and the length of time you take the medication depend on the medical condition you are using it for.

  • For the topical dosage form (hand wash or wipe, solution or swab applicator):
    • For hand cleaning (e.g. Hibistat®):
      • The Hibistat® product contains large amounts of alcohol (70%) and is flammable. Apply the medicine in a well-ventilated place and do not use it while smoking.
      • Adults, adolescents and children from 2 months:
        • Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands with a towel.
        • Rub your hands together with a handkerchief for 15 seconds. Be sure to use the cloth under your nails and between your fingers. The remedy dries quickly, so you shouldn't use a towel to dry it. Do not wet your hands a second time.
        • Pour 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of hand rinse into cupped hands. Rub your hands together for 15 seconds. Be sure to apply the conditioner under your nails and between your toes. The remedy dries quickly, so you shouldn't use a towel to dry it. Do not wet your hands a second time.
      • Children under 2 months - Its use is not recommended.
    • To clean the skin or a wound (e.g. Betasept®, Hibiclens®):
      • Adults, Adolescents and Children from 2 Months - Rinse the area to be cleaned with water. Apply the minimum amount of liquid needed to cover the skin or wound area and wash gently. Rinse the area well with water again.
      • Children under 2 months - Its use is not recommended.
    • Use before an operation or injection (eg Chloraprep®):
      • The Chloraprep® product contains large amounts of alcohol (70%) and is flammable. Do not use on cut or scratched skin areas. Apply the medicine in a well-ventilated place and do not use it while smoking.
      • Adults, adolescents and children from 2 months:
        • Open the bag and use the handle to remove the cotton swab applicator. Do not touch the tip of the applicator. Rub the applicator with the flat side against the skin. Use a back and forth motion for 30 seconds.
        • Make sure the skin is completely wet. Allow the skin to air dry for one minute. Do not use a towel to dry yourself.
        • Do not cover the treated area until the skin is completely dry. For hairless skin, this usually takes a minute or so. If you need to apply the medicine to an area with hair, wipe the area with a towel to remove excess medicine.
      • Children under 2 months - Its use is not recommended.


Ask your doctor how to dispose of medications you no longer use.

Stay away from children.

Do not keep any medication that is expired or that you no longer need.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture and direct light. Prevent it from freezing.

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Chloraprep® and Hibistat® products contain large amounts of alcohol (70%) and are flammable. Do not store near open flames, heaters or electrical devices.


Contact your doctor if your skin problem gets worse. Contact your doctor if you have skin irritation that does not go away, such as redness, itching, or burning in the area where you used this medicine.

This medicine should not be used on large areas of the body for an extended period of time. Follow your doctor's instructions for how long to use this medication.

This medication can cause serious and permanent damage if it gets in your eyes, ears, or mouth. Follow all instructions carefully before using this medication to avoid serious side effects.

This medication may cause brown stains on clothing if bleach is also present. These stains cannot be removed with regular washing. Use only chlorine-free products to wash or bleach fabrics exposed to this medication. If the medicine has instructions for washing fabrics on the package, follow them carefully.

Chloraprep® and Hibistat® products contain large amounts of alcohol (70%) and are flammable. Do not use or store near open flames, heaters or electrical appliances. Do not use the medicine while smoking. Apply the medicine in a well-ventilated place.

secundary effects

In addition to the necessary effects, a drug can have some undesirable effects. While not all of these side effects may occur, they may require medical attention if they do.

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Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:

unknown frequency

  1. blistering, burning, itching, peeling, rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of skin irritation
  2. swelling of the face, hands, or feet
  3. difficult breathing

Some patients may also experience other side effects not listed. If you notice other effects, consult your doctor.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You can report side effects to the FDA by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.

Portions of this document last updated: November 1, 2022

Original article:

Copyright © 2022 IBM Watson Health. All rights reserved. The information is for end user use only and may not be sold, redistributed or used for commercial purposes.


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What are the side effects of chlorhexidine? ›

Side Effects
  • Change in taste.
  • increase in tartar (calculus) on teeth.
  • staining of teeth, mouth, tooth fillings, and dentures or other mouth appliances.
Nov 1, 2022

Can you leave chlorhexidine on the skin? ›

Wash the area gently, then rinse thoroughly with plain water. Avoid using over large areas of skin. This medicine is made under sterile conditions, but its contents are not sterilized. It is possible for bacteria to get inside the product and contaminate it, which could spread infection.

How do you use chlorhexidine gluconate topical? ›

  1. Adults, teenagers, and children 2 months of age and older—Rinse the area to be cleaned with water. Apply the smallest amount of liquid needed to cover the skin or wound area and wash gently. Thoroughly rinse the area again with water.
  2. Children younger than 2 months of age—Use is not recommended.
Nov 1, 2022

What class of drug is chlorhexidine topical? ›

Descriptions. Chlorhexidine belongs to a group of medicines called antiseptic antibacterial agents.

What does chlorhexidine do to skin? ›

Chlorhexidine belongs to a group of medicines called antiseptic antibacterial agents. It is used to clean the skin after an injury, before surgery, or before an injection. Chlorhexidine is also used to clean the hands before a procedure. It works by killing or preventing the growth of bacteria on the skin.

What does an allergic reaction to chlorhexidine look like? ›

Immediate allergic reactions to chlorhexidine can be severe

This can result in a variety of symptoms including itching, hives (urticaria) and angioedema (swelling). Whilst chlorhexidine allergy is rare, it is a well recognised cause of anaphylaxis during surgery.

Does chlorhexidine damage tissue? ›

It causes no damage to new tissue and does not affect the functions of fibroblast and keratinocytes in healing wounds. Its effectiveness in preventing infection has not been ascertained (Morgan).

Does chlorhexidine need to be rinsed off? ›

Once you have completed the scrub, turn the water on and rinse the CHG solution off your body completely. CHG can be drying and irritating to the skin if left to dry. 5. Do not wash with regular soap after you have used the CHG solution.

How long does chlorhexidine last on skin? ›

As a surgical scrub, chlorhexidine not only reduced skin flora, but it also maintained its antimicrobial activity for up to six hours.

What is chlorhexidine 4% topical solution? ›

Chlorhexidine gluconate 4% solution is a topical antibiotic used as a skin cleanser. It is active against gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, facultative anaerobes, aerobes, and yeast.

What are the contraindications of chlorhexidine? ›

Contraindications / Precautions
  • Breast-feeding. It is not known if chlorhexidine is excreted into breast milk. ...
  • Dental work. ...
  • Infection, periodontal disease. ...
  • Surgery. ...
  • Ocular exposure. ...
  • Pregnancy. ...
  • Tympanic membrane perforation. ...
  • Lumbar puncture, occlusive dressing, skin disease.

Does chlorhexidine bind to skin? ›

Its antimicrobial effects persist because it is binds strongly to proteins in the skin and mucosa, making it an effective antiseptic ingredient for handwashing, skin preparation for surgery and the placement of intravascular access.

Where can you not use chlorhexidine? ›

Chlorhexidine should only be used on the skin. Do not swallow it or get it in the eyes, ears, mouth, or nose. Do not use it on the genital area (sex organs) or anal area.

Can I use chlorhexidine on my face? ›

Chlorhexidine is contraindicated on the face and scalp. Eye protection is recommended for healthcare workers due to the splash risk of chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine antiseptic solution is highly effective as a surgical scrub and is useful in areas where the risks do not outweigh the benefits.

What two effects does chlorhexidine have on bacteria? ›

[7] Chlorhexidine prevents sticking of bacteria to the teeth and oral mucosa and causes damage to bacteria by increasing the permeability of bacterial cell walls and changing osmotic balance. [8] It has an inhibiting effect on both Gram-negative and positive bacteria and yeasts.

Does chlorhexidine affect wound healing? ›

Intensive rinsing with high concentrations of chlorhexidine may, after oral surgical operations, especially surgery in which bone is exposed, result in delay and disturbance of wound healing in humans.

How long does chlorhexidine reaction last? ›

In each of our cases, all skin changes had resolved within 7–10 days of initial symptoms. Our findings highlight a series of delayed adverse reactions to epidermal chlorhexidine occurring beyond the intraoperative and immediate postoperative period.

How do you remove chlorhexidine from skin? ›

Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands with a towel. Rub the hands with the hand wipe for 15 seconds. Make sure to use the wipe under the fingernails and between the fingers.

How rare is chlorhexidine allergy? ›

The prevalence of chlorhexidine contact allergy by performing a patch test was 0.47–1% of patients. Despite the widespread use of chlorhexidine the healthcare settings, the prevalence of chlorhexidine-induced anaphylaxis in healthcare workers is still relatively low.

Is chlorhexidine a carcinogen? ›

A study of the degradation of Chlorhexidine revealed minor amounts of p-chloroaniline after 36 weeks storage. Chlorhexidine Digluconate was not carcinogenic in a 2-year drinking water study.

Can you over use chlorhexidine? ›

Chlorhexidine is usually a safe medicine if you follow the instructions that come with it. However, do not use more than the recommended dose. Speak to your doctor or a pharmacist now if you or your child has swallowed too much.

Can you put chlorhexidine on open wound? ›

CHG can be gently applied to any superficial wound, including stage 1 and 2 decubitus ulcers, friable skin/rash, and superficial burns. We do not recommend using CHG on packed wounds or wounds that are large or deep. Skin near and surrounding any wound should always be cleaned well.

What are the disadvantages of chlorhexidine mouth rinses? ›

Chlorhexidine mouthwash side effects
  • Staining. Chlorhexidine might cause staining of tooth surfaces, restorations, and the tongue. ...
  • Alteration in taste. Come people experience an alteration in taste during treatment. ...
  • Tartar formation. You may have an increase in tartar formation.

Who should not use chlorhexidine? ›

This medicine may cause severe irritation or chemical burns in young children. Chlorhexidine gluconate is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old. It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Can chlorhexidine make you sick? ›

Rare but serious allergic reactions, including fatal anaphylaxis, have been reported with the antiseptic chlorhexidine gluconate. These reactions can occur within minutes of exposure, and can occur with topical or oral exposure to the drug.

Can chlorhexidine damage your teeth? ›

The control rats had an average of 30 cavities on their smooth tooth surfaces, while their counterparts on clonidine had an average of more than 55 cavities, an 84-percent jump. The discrepancy was less but still notable on the teeth's chewing surfaces.

How toxic is chlorhexidine? ›

At high concentrations Chlorhexidine is harmful, however at the low concentrations typically used for oral rinses and skin cleaners it can be safely used. In spite of the relatively non-toxic profile of chlorhexidine, there have been incidences of anaphylactic reactions.


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