Chlorhexidine, the most effective of a group of chemicals called biguanides, is extensively used in antiseptic products. It adheres to and persists on skin and mucous membranes, is of relatively low toxicity, and destroys a wide range of microbes, including vegetative bacteria, fungi, and some enveloped viruses. Chlorhexidine is an ingredient in a multitude of products including antiseptic skin creams, disinfectants, and mouthwash-es. In the 1990s the FDA approved the use of chlorhexidine-impregnated catheters and implanted surgical mesh. Even tiny chips have been developed that can be inserted into periodon-tal pockets, where they slowly release chlorhexidine to treat periodontal gum disease. Adverse side effects of chlorhexidine are rare, but severe allergic reactions have been reported.
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