Hexachlorophene (Topical application)
Generic Name: hexachlorophene (hex-a-KLOR-oh-feen)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 12, 2021.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Uses for hexachlorophene
Hexachlorophene is a topical antibacterial cleanser. It is used to clean the skin before surgery to prevent the spread of infection. It works like a detergent to cleanse the skin by killing or preventing the growth of bacteria.
Hexachlorophene is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using hexachlorophene
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For hexachlorophene, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to hexachlorophene or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Because of hexachlorophene's potential for the risk of increased drug absorption, use in infants and premature babies is not recommended.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of hexachlorophene in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have skin diseases, circulation problems, delayed wound healing, and age-related liver, kidney, and heart problems, which may require caution in patients receiving hexachlorophene.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of hexachlorophene. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Broken or burned skin—Should not be used in patients with this condition.
- Ichthyosis congenita (genetic skin disorder) or
- Letterer-Siwe disease (a rare disease) or
- Other skin diseases—Use with caution. May increase the risk for serious side effects.
Proper use of hexachlorophene
It is very important that you use hexachlorophene only as directed. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.
Hexachlorophene should only be used on the skin. Do not swallow it or use it in the eyes, ears, mouth, nose, genital area (sex organs), or anal area. If it does get on these areas, rinse it right away with water.
Follow your doctor's instructions about how to clean and care for your skin before and after you use hexachlorophene. Make sure you understand all of the directions, and ask questions if you find something is not clear.
The dose of hexachlorophene will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of hexachlorophene. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For topical dosage form (emulsion):
- For cleaning the skin:
- Adults and children—Apply 5 milliliters (mL) to the hands and make it into a lather by adding a small amount of water. Apply to the area to be cleansed, rinse thoroughly with running water, and pat dry.
- Infants—Use is not recommended.
- For cleaning the skin:
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions while using hexachlorophene
Check with your doctor if your skin problem becomes worse. Call your doctor if you develop a constant skin irritation, such as redness, itching or burning, in the area where you used hexachlorophene.
Hexachlorophene should not be used on a regular basis on large areas of the body. Follow your doctor's instructions about how long to use hexachlorophene.
Hexachlorophene may cause serious and permanent injury when placed in the eyes, ears, mouth, or vagina. Carefully follow all instructions before using hexachlorophene to prevent serious side effects.
Hexachlorophene must not be used to bathe infants on a regular basis unless your doctor tells you otherwise. This may increase risk for more serious side effects.
Do not use hexachlorophene as an occlusive dressing, wet pack, lotion, or tampon. Also, using other skin products that contain alcohol may decrease the effectiveness of hexachlorophene.
Hexachlorophene side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Incidence not known
- Blistering, crusting, irritation, itching, or reddening of the skin
- cracked, dry, or scaly skin
- increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
- redness or other discoloration of the skin
- severe sunburn
- skin rash
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- Abdominal or stomach cramps
- blurred vision
- cold, clammy skin
- decreased urination
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position suddenly
- dry mouth
- fast, weak pulse
- increase in heart rate
- loss of appetite
- rapid breathing
- sunken eyes
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- weight loss
- wrinkled skin
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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