Chlorhexidine: benefits and uses

Chlorhexidine derivatives (chlorhexidine digluconate, chlorhexidine acetate, and few others) are used in more than 70 different pharmaceutical formulations and various medical applications. Chlorhexidine provides a broad-spectrum efficacy and substantivity on the skin with low irritation. Chlorhexidine has a strong affinity for binding to skin and mucous membranes and thereby provides prolonged activity. 

Chlorhexidine (mainly in a form of bigluconate solution) is widely used as a disinfectant in a wide range of pharmaceutical products:  wound and burn care products, oral care products, topical skin disinfectants, hand washing solutions, catheter lubricants, central venous catheters and needleless connectors.

Chlorhexidine in skin care
- Chlorhexidine cloths demonstrated greater reduction in vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE) than soap or water
- Preoperative scrub for patients. Preop skin preparation with chlorhexidine and alcohol combination was associated       with reduction in surgical site infection (SSI); greatest reduction in skin bacteria for up to 24 hours

-  Part of standard protocol for urinary catheter insertion
- 0.005% chlorhexidine concentrate bladder irrigation has been known to reduce urinary tract infections during              prolonged urinary catheterization

Hand hygiene
- Many hand hygiene products in hospitals contain both chlorhexidine and alcohol
- Longer duration of action than alcohol
- Surgical scrub antimicrobial activity lasts up to 6 hours

Vascular Access:
- Chlorhexidine sponge dressing has shown a reduction of 60% in the incidence of CRBSI and a reduction of 44% in local site infections

Dental and oral care:
- Chlorhexidine prevents plaque formation and maintains bacteriostatic action for several hours
-  Many forms of oral care products exist: mouthwashes, toothpastes, aerosols, gels