University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Chlorhexidine: uses and adverse reactions

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology

Publication Date


Document Type





Allergy and Immunology | Dermatology | Organic Chemicals


Chlorhexidine is increasingly being used not only as an antiseptic to prevent hospital infections and an adjuvant in oral hygiene but also as a preservative in personal care products. As exposure to the agent becomes more widespread, reports of adverse reactions to it are increasing. Complications range from mild irritant contact dermatitis to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Allergic contact dermatitis in some cases precedes anaphylaxis. It is imperative that physicians be aware of the many possible sources of contact with this antiseptic and be alert to recognize the potentially debilitating and catastrophic reactions that may occur because of chlorhexidine sensitization.

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Citation: Dermatitis. 2013 May-Jun;24(3):112-8. doi: 10.1097/DER.0b013e3182905561. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Dermatitis : contact, atopic, occupational, drug : official journal of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, North American Contact Dermatitis Group

PubMed ID