Chlorhexidine (On the skin)

Introduction

Chlorhexidine (klor-HEX-i-deen)

Kills bacteria on your skin. It is used as a wound cleanser and general skin cleanser after an injury, before surgery, or before an injection. It is also used to clean the hands before a procedure. This is an antiseptic antibacterial agent.

Brand Name(s)

Hibiclens, Surgilube, Dyna-Hex, Betasept, Dyna-Hex2, Hibistat, Aplicare Antiseptic Chlorhexidine Gluconate

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to chlorhexidine or isopropyl alcohol. This medicine should not be used for an extended period of time on large areas of your body. Do not use the medicine in your eyes, ears, or mouth, or on the genital area. This medicine should not be used on a baby unless your doctor tells you to.

How to Use This Medicine

Gel/Jelly, Liquid, Pad, Sponge

  • 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. Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to. To do so may cause irritation of the skin.
  • Different forms of the medicine are used in different ways. Be sure you understand the directions for the product you are given before you use it. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about how to clean and care for your skin before and after you use this medicine. Make sure you understand all of the directions, and ask questions if you find something is not clear.
  • This medicine 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. If it does get on these areas, rinse it off right away.
  • To clean the hands (eg, 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 you are smoking.
    • 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. The medicine will dry quickly so you should not use a towel for drying. Do not wet your hands a second time.
    • Pour 1 teaspoonful (5 milliliters) of the hand rinse in your cupped hand. Rub the hands together for 15 seconds. Make sure to apply the rinse under the fingernails and between the fingers. The medicine will dry quickly so you should not use a towel for drying. Do not wet your hands a second time.
  • To clean the skin or a wound (eg, Betasept®, Hibiclens®):
    • 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.
  • To use before surgery or an injection (eg, Chloraprep®):
    • The Chloraprep® product contains large amounts of alcohol (70%) and is flammable. Do not use it on skin areas that have cuts or scrapes. Apply the medicine in a well-ventilated place and do not use it while you are smoking.
    • Open the pouch and use the handle to remove the swabstick applicator. Do not touch the applicator tip. Rub the applicator on the skin with the flat side against the skin. Use a back and forth motion for 30 seconds.
    • Make sure the skin is completely wet. Let the skin air dry for one minute. Do not use a towel for drying.
    • Do not cover the treated area until the skin is completely dry. This is usually one minute or longer for hairless skin. If you must apply the medicine to a hairy area of the body, wipe the area with a towel to remove extra medicine.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Do not freeze.
  • The Chloraprep® and Hibistat® products contain large amounts of alcohol (70%) and are flammable. Do not store them near a flame, heater, or electrical device.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of the used medicine container and any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to a topical antibacterial medicine in the past.
  • This medicine may cause serious and permanent injury when placed in the eyes, ears, or mouth. Carefully follow all instructions before using this medicine to prevent these serious side effects.
  • Some antibacterial skin medicines may cause discoloration of the skin, hair, or nails. Ask your doctor about this if you have any concerns.
  • This medicine may stain clothing. These stains may not be removed by washing. Use only non-chlorine products to wash or bleach fabrics exposed to this medicine. Follow the directions on the package about washing these fabrics.
  • The Chloraprep® and Hibistat® products contain large amounts of alcohol (70%) and are flammable. Do not use them or store them near a flame, heater, or electrical device. Do not use the medicine while you are smoking. Apply the medicine in a well-ventilated place.
  • Do not use this medicine for a skin problem that has not been checked by your doctor.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • New or worsening skin rash, redness, burning, itching, or swelling in the area where the medicine is applied.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

         
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