Do not use antiseptic products routinely in addition to or in place of normal detergent in the pre-operative bath/shower.

Type of practice

Other health practices

Topic Area


During pre-operative patient pre-treatment it is common practice to use chlorhexidine-based antiseptics at 2%-4%. The 2%-4% chlorhexidine antiseptic solution is indicated in cases where decontamination/cleansing of the skin is required in patients with MRSA and multi-drug resistant organisms in prosthetic surgery (orthopaedic, vascular, cardiac, etc.). Its indiscriminate use for all other surgical interventions is useless and even harmful, as it entails an increased risk of developing chlorhexidine resistant strains and in some cases skin irritations that favour the development of surgical infections and skin sensitisation mechanisms in patients.


1. Tanner J, Dumville JC, Norman G, Fortnam M “Surgical hand antisepsis to reduce surgical site infection” Cochrane collaboration, 2016.
2. Webster J, Osborne S. “Pre operative beathing or showering with skin antiseptics to reduce surgical site infection”. Cochrane Collaboration, 2015.
3. Dumville JC, McFarlane E, Edwards P, Lipp A, Holmes A, Liu Z. Preoperative skin antiseptics for preventing surgical wound infections after clean surgery. Cochrane Collaboration. Update 2015.
4. NICE 2008 “Surgical site infection: Prevention and treatment of surgical site infection”.

Attention. Please note that these items are provided only for information and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a clinician. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their clinician.