Chlorhexidine Solution: Benefits, Side Effects, and Factors to Consider Before Using

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Chlorhexidine is a type of topical antiseptic that inhibits inflammation, redness, and infection on skin injuries. The drug is often used as surgical hand scrub to eliminate germs, disinfectant during injections, or as skin infection treatment. Chlorhexidine comes in a variety of forms including patches, jelly, lotion, topical cream, sponge, or solution.

How to Use Chlorhexidine Topical Treatment

Chlorhexidine is meant for external use only and should not be taken orally. When taking the drug, follow the directions on the label or use it according to your doctor’s instruction. Do not use Chlorhexidine on mucus membranes or in the nose, ears, or mouth. Using the drug on the eyes, nose, or mouth could cause severe—not to mention permanent—damage.

In children, Chlorhexidine can be used to treat certain types of infections. However, you will need to talk to your pediatrician on dosage and usage instructions. Do not give this drug to a child or a teen without consulting your doctor first. Certain Chlorhexidine brands contain 70% alcohol and is flammable so keep this out of your child’s reach.

Chlorhexidine Side Effects

In controlled dosage, Chlorhexidine is relatively safe to use. However, certain people could be allergic to the drug that’s why we recommend a patch test prior to using chlorhexidine. If allergy or irritation occurs, stop using the medication. Get emergency help if hives; rashes; difficulty in breathing; face, tongue, throat, or lip swelling occurs.

Below are other common side effects and discomforts caused by Chlorhexidine:

  • Burning, severe itching, or redness
  • Flaky, blistering skin
  • Swelling on the affected area
  • General signs of skin irritation on the treated area

When to Use Chlorhexidine

Chlorhexidine should only be used when instructed by your physician — do not use it to self-medicate. Chlorhexidine can be used as hand rinse, to clean and disinfect wounds, etc. The drug should not be used on deep, open wounds and must not be used over an extended period over large areas of the body.

Factors to Consider Before Taking Chlorhexidine


When prescribed with the drug, discuss with your doctor certain drugs related to Chlorhexidine. You can also list down food, dyes, preservatives, or animal allergies you have and give it to your doctor to consider.

Interaction to Some Medication

Chlorhexidine may interact with other medications you might be taking so it’s best to take precautions to avoid severe reactions to the drug. Before taking the drug, make sure you discuss with your doctor the medications you are taking and ask if there are adverse effects when taking these medications together. Certain types of foods and beverages do not mix well with Chlorhexidine too. Ask your doctor how Chlorhexidine interacts with tobacco, alcohol, or other types of food you eat often just to be on the safe side.

Not Suitable for Breastfeeding or Pregnant Women

Although the drug is not known to affect breast milk, lactating women are discouraged from using Chlorhexidine. If you are being treated with Chlorhexidine on areas near the breast, do not breastfeed. Finally, tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or if you’re planning to conceive while taking this medication.