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Learning About Using Chlorhexidine Gluconate (CHG) Soap

What is it?

Chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) soap is a special soap used to clean the skin and protect against germs. The soap comes as a liquid or as cloth wipes. Do not use if you are allergic to CHG.

Why is it used?

CHG soap is used to prevent infections on the skin. Using this soap can reduce your chances of getting infections before or after some major surgeries. It can reduce your risk of getting an infection while you're in the intensive care unit (ICU).

How is it used?

Follow your care team's instructions for how you can use CHG soap.

If you don't have specific instructions, here are some general directions for using CHG liquid soap.

  • Shower as usual with soap and shampoo, and then rinse. Use simple, plain soap as some body washes are incompatible with CHG soap.
  • Turn off the water, and wash with CHG soap. Start from your neck down. Avoid your face, eyes, ears, mouth, and genitals.
  • Let the soap stay on your skin as long as instructed.
  • Turn the water back on. Rinse off the soap completely.
  • Dry off with a clean towel. Dress in clean clothes.

If you have CHG cloth wipes, here are some general directions for how to use them.

  • Wait about 1 to 1 ½ hours after your regular shower before using the CHG wipes.
  • Wash your face and hair as usual before using the CHG wipes.
  • With the wipes, start from your neck down. Use 1 wipe for each part of your body, including your:
    • Neck, shoulders, and chest. Avoid your face, eyes, ears, and mouth.
    • Arms. Start at your shoulder and end at your fingertips. Remember to wipe your armpits. Use one wipe for each arm.
    • Belly and groin. Avoid your genitals.
    • Legs. Remember to wipe your foot and between your toes. Use one wipe for each leg.
    • Back and rear end (buttocks). Avoid your anus.
  • Talk to your care team if some areas are too hard to reach.
  • Let your skin air-dry completely. Your skin may feel sticky or even itchy. That feeling should go away after your skin dries.
  • Dress in clean clothes.

After using CHG soap or cloth wipes, do not:

  • Use regular soap on your skin.
  • Apply skin products, such as lotion or deodorant.

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