Side effects of Hibiclens chlorhexidine gluconate

Hibiclens is an over-the-counter brand name for the antiseptic and bacteriostatic chemical called chlorhexidine gluconate. It is a skin cleanser and is bactericidal in action to both the gram positive as well as the gram negative bacteria. This medicine can kill the bacteria by attaching itself to the surface of the microbial cell and then destroying the cell membrane. Generally marketed as a skin cleanser, hibiclens chlorhexidine gluconate is mainly used both as a hand antiseptic as well as for washing of wounds. It is also often used topically as a pre-operative skin preparation and is available as acne skin wash. Instead of iodine, hibiclens is used as a rubbing agent to clean the area on the skin prior to the use of hypodermic or intravenous needles. It is also an effective disinfectant around the blood collection and urinary catheter sites, as it can help in prevention the growth of bacteria when applied on burns. However, like any other drug, hibiclens also has certain side effects.

Side effects of Hibiclens chlorhexidine gluconate

Common effects
Application of Hibiclens chlorhexidine gluconate should be limited only to wounds involving damage of superficial layers of skin. Pregnant women or lactating mothers should however always consult the doctor before using this medicine. Although there are no reports to prove the presence of chlorhexidine in lactating milk, it is still advisable to thoroughly wash the breasts before nursing, if the drug has been used on the breasts for cleansing the skin. 

Hypersensitivity and allergic reactions
Hibiclens chlorhexidine gluconate can be quite harmful in higher concentrations as it can pose serious allergic reactions and skin irritation. It can be life-threatening and should be avoided or atleast carefully administered by people who have a high sensitivity to this drug. Allergic symptoms can occur if the drug comes in contact with the mucous membrane of any part of the body (that is, membranes of the anus, genitals or mouth). It can also lower the blood pressure, increase heart rate, and can cause blistering, burning, skin rashes, itchiness, peeling and other signs of irritation such as redness or swelling of the skin, mouth, tongue, face and lips, hives, shortness of breath and tightness of chest.

Ocular effects
Hibiclens should always be kept away from eyes (as it can cause corneal damage), ears and mouth and should strictly be used externally. Accidental exposure of the chlorhexidine cleanser to eyes during the pre-preparation of facial surgery can sometimes result in severe eye pain, inflammation of the conjunctiva and swelling of the epithelium, keratitis, corneal epithelial cell loss and chronic corneal ulcers.


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