Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic and disinfectant that is commonly used in healthcare settings to prevent the spread of infection. It is a broad-spectrum agent that is effective against a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and is available in various forms, including mouthwash, skin cleanser, and wound dressing.
Uses of Chlorhexidine
- Chlorhexidine is used in a variety of settings to prevent and treat infections, including:
- Oral care: Chlorhexidine mouthwash is used to reduce the risk of oral infections, such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Skin care: Chlorhexidine skin cleanser is used to prevent infections in surgical settings and to treat skin infections, such as impetigo.
- Wound care: Chlorhexidine is used as a wound dressing to prevent infections and promote healing.
- Catheter care: Chlorhexidine is used to disinfect catheters and prevent catheter-related infections.
How Chlorhexidine Works
Chlorhexidine works by disrupting the cell membranes of microorganisms, leading to cell death. It is effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, as well as fungi and viruses. Chlorhexidine also has residual activity, meaning it continues to work for several hours after application.
Side Effects and Precautions
- While chlorhexidine is generally safe and well-tolerated, it can cause some side effects, including:
- Skin irritation: Some individuals may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions to chlorhexidine.
- Staining: Chlorhexidine can cause temporary staining of the teeth and tongue.
- Taste alteration: Chlorhexidine can cause a temporary alteration in taste perception.
- Chlorhexidine should not be used in individuals who are allergic to it, and should be used with caution in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
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