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J Hosp Infect. 2012 Oct;82(2):71-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2012.07.005. Epub 2012 Aug 11.

Impact of non-rinse skin cleansing with chlorhexidine gluconate on prevention of healthcare-associated infections and colonization with multi-resistant organisms: a systematic review.

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Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.



The topical use of chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) is intended to reduce bacterial density on patients' skin.


To assess the impact of body bath or skin cleansing with CHG-impregnated or CHG-saturated washcloths in preventing healthcare-associated infections and colonization.


This systematic review included published randomized controlled trials, cross-over trials, cohort studies and before-and-after studies. Studies were included if they compared the use of CHG in washcloths with any of the following; soap and water bathing, routine advice, no intervention.


Sixteen published studies and four conference abstracts were included for systematic review. Nine studies reported the impact of CHG on incidence of central-line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI); the incidence rate ratio (IRR) was 0.43 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.26-0.71]. Five studies assessed the impact of CHG washcloths on incidence of surgical site infection (SSI); the RR was 0.29 (95% CI: 0.17-0.49). Four studies reported the impact on vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) colonization; the IRR was 0.43 (95% CI: 0.32-0.59). Three studies reported the impact on meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization rate; the IRR was 0.48 (95% CI: 0.24-0.95). Six studies reported the impact on VRE infection; the IRR was 0.90 (95% CI: 0.42-1.93). Six studies reported the impact on MRSA infection; the IRR was 0.82 (95% CI: 0.51-1.30). There was no reduction in acinetobacter infection rates in the three studies where this was reported.


These results suggest that the use of non-rinse CHG application significantly reduces the risk of CLABSI, SSI and colonization with VRE or MRSA, but not infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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