ATC Code A01AB03, B05CA02, D08AC02, D09AA12, G04BX19, R02AA05, S01AX09, S02AA09, S03AA04
Formula C22H30Cl2N10
Molar Mass (g·mol−1) 505,45
Physical State solid
Melting Point (°C) 134–136
PKS Value 10,78
CAS Number 55-56-1
PUB Number 9552079
Drugbank ID DB00878
Solubility sparingly soluble in water


Chlorhexidine is a disinfectant and antiseptic used for skin disinfection before surgery and for sterilization of surgical instruments. It can be used to disinfect both the patient's skin and the hands of medical personnel. It is also used to clean wounds, prevent dental plaque, treat yeast infections in the mouth, and prevent blockage of urinary catheters. It is most commonly used as a liquid, and less commonly as a powder. Chlorhexidine is effective against a wide range of microorganisms, but it is ineffective against bacterial spores.



The broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity of chlorhexidine is due to its ability to disrupt microbial cell membranes. The positively charged chlorhexidine molecule reacts with negatively charged phosphate groups on microbial cell surfaces and in the cell membrane. This reaction destroys the integrity of the cell wall, causing the cytosol (cell contents) to leak out. In addition, chlorhexidine also penetrates the cell itself, leading to precipitation of cytoplasmic components (enzymes and other proteins) and ultimately cell death.


Chlorhexidine is applied only topically (superficially) and in the oral cavity. Normally, it does not pass the skin barrier, which is why there are no data on the absorption and metabolism of this substance. When applied in the mouth, minimal systemic absorption may occur, but this does not show any effects.


Side effects

Side effects may include skin irritation, tooth discoloration, and allergic reactions. Direct contact may cause eye problems.

Use during pregnancy does not pose a risk.

Toxicological data

LD50 (rat, i.v.): 21 mg-kg-1

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter ist Autor zu pharmazeutischen Themen in der Medizin-Redaktion von Medikamio. Er befindet sich im letzten Semester seines Pharmaziestudiums an der Universität Wien und liebt das wissenschaftliche Arbeiten im Bereich der Naturwissenschaften.

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Stefanie Lehenauer ist seit 2020 freie Autorin bei Medikamio und studierte Pharmazie an der Universität Wien. Sie arbeitet als Apothekerin in Wien und ihre Leidenschaft sind pflanzliche Arzneimittel und deren Wirkung.

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The contents shown do not replace the original package insert of the medicinal product, especially with regard to dosage and effect of the individual products. We cannot assume any liability for the correctness of the data, as the data was partly converted automatically. A doctor should always be consulted for diagnoses and other health questions. Further information on this topic can be found here.