Chlorhexidine: reminder of potential for hypersensitivity

Healthcare professionals are reminded that chlorhexidine is known to induce hypersensitivity, including generalised allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock.

Article date: January 2012

Chlorhexidine is an antibacterial present in a wide range of topical and oromucosal antiseptic products, including over-the-counter mouthwashes. It can also be used in some indwelling catheters to prevent contamination.

Healthcare professionals are reminded that chlorhexidine is known to induce hypersensitivity, including generalised allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock. The prevalence of chlorhexidine hypersensitivity is unknown, but available literature suggests this is likely to be very rare. Products or medical devices containing chlorhexidine should not be administered to anyone with a possible history of an allergic reaction to chlorhexidine.

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