Can I safely use my dog's chlorhexidine shampoo?
January 7, 2017 5:24 PM   Subscribe

I have a scalp infection that I've had for years. My dogs have also had frequent skin infections during the same time. The shampoos that doctors have told me to use for my scalp infection are OTC stuff, and they don't seem to work all that great. The dog's shampoo that the vet prescribed seems to help them, though. Can I safely use my dog's chlorhexidine 4% + PS shampoo?

If you want to tell me to see a doctor, I already have (and likely will again): they prescribe me things, and I use them, and there's various levels of improvement, but nothing I've used has been a knock-out-of-the-park solution over the years. Plus, I don't have insurance, and paying for a doctor's visit is a bit expensive right now.

The ingredients in my dog's shampoo are: Chlorhexidine Gluconate 4%, Phytosphingosine Salicyloyl 0.05%, Water, Lauramine Oxide, Cocamidopropyl Betaine; Polyacrylate-1 Crosspolymer, Disodium Oleamido MIPA Sulfosuccinate, Nonoxynol-12, Glycolic Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone (and), Methylisothiazolinone, Tertrasodium EDTA, Fragrance, Yellow 6.

(Note: The directions on this brand of chlorhexidine 4% + PS shampoo do say that it's for topical use on animals only, but other direction labels on different brands of chlorhexidine 4% + PS shampoo say things like "For topical use only" and "Keep away from children", but don't specifically try to thwart adult humans from using dog shampoo.)
posted by 23skidoo to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
 
Chlorhex is effective against bacteria and yeast. Phytosphingosine is good for hydration. In the grand tradition of "should I eat that?" threads... yes, I'd gladly use it on myself!
posted by metaseeker at 5:27 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


I concur; phytosphingosine looks good for the skin and 4% chlorhexidine is the same strength as in Hibiclens and humans use that all the time (stating this in case you run out of your dog's shampoo and need an alternative in a pinch).
posted by smangosbubbles at 5:34 PM on January 7


You put your hands in it when you bathe the dogs, right?
posted by dilettante at 5:51 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


Chlorhex 4% is routinely used in hospitals for washing humans. I'm not sure if any of the other ingredients would be of concern, but the chlorhex is people-safe.
posted by snorkmaiden at 6:00 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I would definitely try this.
posted by purpleclover at 6:51 PM on January 7


Yeah do it, it's safe for you and harmful to your bodily invaders
posted by Ferreous at 7:05 PM on January 7


Cholrhexedine is not innocuous.
posted by Cuspidx at 8:37 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


When you get the opportunity to speak with a doctor again, ask specifically about psoriasis. If you have it, you need to also be on the lookout for psoriatic arthritis, which you want to start treating at the earliest possible inkling. Many people present with the rash first, often on the scalp, and faffle away years of increasing joint damage thinking they just have bad dandruff, with that impression reinforced by GPs and hair professionals.

/Public service announcement ends.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:41 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


i would use it but be aware that hibiclens can, under suboptimal circumstances, cause deafness if you get it in your ears. i believe you may need to already have a ruptured eardrum for this to happen but like. don't accidentally deafen yourself ok.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:35 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


obviously don't get it in your dog's ears either
posted by poffin boffin at 10:35 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Perpendicular to your question, but after several years of struggling with likely stress-related SD (and as a long haired guy who likes hats and has crazy sensitive skin already) trying all the OTC and a couple of Rx shampoos (steroid and antifungal) and serums and folk remedies and tea tree oil and ACV and all the other useless bullshit (all of which either made things worse immediately or helped short term and then rebounded, many of which are very expensive for no results), I thought about the science involved (nicely summarized above, it's amazing that this remains a refractory issue in medicine), and my propensity to sensitive skin everywhere, and hypothesized that the symptoms might be an allergic reaction to sebum or dead yeast cells.

My suggestion, and IANAMD, is to try taking diphenhydramine HCl -- oral Benadryl -- twice a day for a week (the adult daily dose). If you notice improvement keep it up for a few more weeks while using only the mildest shampoo, as little as possible, and a scalp brush twice a day.

After symptoms resolve you can taper down to where you just need a dose or two when symptoms seem to be flaring. I also switched to allegra (fenfexodene) as a non-drowsy alternative. Works just as well for managing symptom flare up (but you only take it once a day).

Basically cured me. In a matter of weeks. No doctor ever suggested it, never saw this online, just deduced it out of frustration. And I am positive it was the magic bullet for me. I've been nearly symptom-free for over a year since I tried this. And I now use regular shampoo and can miss a day wth no issues.

I've suggested it to two other people who reported similar miraculous results.

TLDR: OTC antihistamines cured my SD. Fast and persistently. And now I don't need them except occasionally. And I have never seen this suggested or tried before. It's cheap and safe so you have nothing to lose if it fails.
posted by spitbull at 9:40 AM on January 8


To add, actually Benadryl twice a day is 2/3 the max adult daily dose.

There is a Benadryl lotion that I also tried but found it was irritating itself (alcohol based). But it was effective at knocking out small spots which is why I tried oral diphenhydramine instead. And it worked much better.
posted by spitbull at 9:50 AM on January 8


When you get the opportunity to speak with a doctor again, ask specifically about psoriasis. If you have it, you need to also be on the lookout for psoriatic arthritis, which you want to start treating at the earliest possible inkling. Many people present with the rash first, often on the scalp, and faffle away years of increasing joint damage thinking they just have bad dandruff, with that impression reinforced by GPs and hair professionals.

/Public service announcement ends.


I speak to every doctor I see specifically about psoriasis, because my scalp condition is SO...(infinity)...OOOO much worse than bad dandruff, and because my mom has psoriatic arthritis. I would KILL to have bad dandruff.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:00 AM on January 8


You really don't want to get this stuff in your eyes. The active ingredient will cause severe and permanent eye damage if left in the eyes for too long a period.
posted by mygoditsbob at 8:56 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I use Chlorhexidine soap for a skin condition, and yes, I was just going to chime in that it's safe to use (very drying though, might be rough on your hair), but absolutely do not get it in your ears or eyes. You might have to wash your hair over a sink, with maybe some swim goggles on to avoid that.
posted by katyggls at 10:05 PM on January 8


You say you have an infection, but you don't name the infection. Have you had a skin swab, scrape, or other diagnostic test to confirm the presence of and identify the pathogen?
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:22 PM on January 9


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