Chlorhexidine Allergy: On the Rise and Often Overlooked

  • Morten Schjørring OpstrupEmail author
  • Gregor Borut Ernst Jemec
  • Lene Heise Garvey
Anaphylaxis and Drug Allergy (DA Khan and M Castells, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Anaphylaxis and Drug Allergy


Purpose of Review

In recent years, the risk of allergy to chlorhexidine is increasingly recognised. In this review, we discuss why the allergy is so easily overlooked and point out several preventative initiatives that can minimise the risk of both chlorhexidine sensitisation and allergy development and accidental re-exposure in patients with chlorhexidine allergy. Testing for chlorhexidine allergy is also discussed.

Recent Findings

Numerous reports have been published from many different specialties. Symptoms range from mild skin symptoms to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Testing for chlorhexidine allergy is based on skin testing and in vitro testing. Recently, it was found that both skin prick testing and specific IgE have high sensitivities and specificities.


This review gives an overview of chlorhexidine allergy with a special focus on preventative initiatives and testing.


Chlorhexidine Chlorhexidine allergy Skin testing Specific IgE Perioperative allergy Allergy testing 



There are no external sources of funding.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

GBE Jemec has received honoraria from AbbVie, Chemocentryx, Coloplast, Incyte, Inflarx, Novartis, Pierre Fabre and UCB for participation on advisory boards, and grants from Abbvie, Leo Pharma, Janssen-Cilag, Regeneron, Sanofi, Astra-Zeneca and Novartis for participation as an investigator, and received speaker honoraria from AbbVie, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Galderma and MSD. He has also received unrestricted departmental grants from Abbvie, Leo Pharma and Novartis. LHG is an adjudication committee member for Merck, New Jersey US and Novo Nordisk, Denmark. MSO has no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of DermatologyZealand University HospitalRoskildeDenmark
  2. 2.Danish Anaesthesia Allergy Centre, Allergy Clinic, Department of Dermatology and AllergyCopenhagen University Hospital GentofteHellerupDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Clinical MedicineUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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