As many of us will know whenever somebody receives invasive medical treatment such as an epidural (during labour) or any type of surgery when the integrity of the skin is broken it is very important to ensure that the surrounding area is cleaned to prevent infection.
One of the solutions commonly used to create a sterile environment is Chlorhexidine. This antibacterial is used as an antiseptic and is on the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system. Other common uses include cosmetics (additive to creams, toothpaste, deodorants and antiperspirants) and pharmaceutical products (preservative in eye drops and antiseptic mouthwashes).
In high concentrations Chlorhexidine can cause burns especially when combined with alcohols (ethanol and isopropyl alcohols). As a result BLB are currently acting for a young lady who had her back washed with Chlorhexidine before having an epidural and was left to sit on a pad soaked in the solution for a prolonged period of time. Consequently she suffered extensive burns to her buttocks and may now need plastic surgery.