My dad, like many dads before him, has zero interest in anything remotely beauty-related. If he didn't live with my mom, there wouldn't be a lotion, gel, or shampoo in sight. There would, however, be a big ol' bottle of Hibiclens.
What's Hibiclens, you ask? Hydrogen peroxide in a cuter outfit? Eh, kind of. Hibiclens is a red-tinted cleanser used primarily by surgeons to disinfect pre-operation and as a medical-grade hand antiseptic.
My dad was given his first blue bottle of the stuff by his doctor eight years ago, to help keep his body odor in check. He was instructed to use a quarter-sized amount under each armpit in the shower as a cleanser once every month or so. That's it. And it worked — he hasn't had to use traditional deodorant since.
After years of listening to my dad sing the praises of Hibiclens, I finally gave in to my curiosity and decided to do a little digging. As it turns out, the solution can be used to treat acne, too. I asked dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, to shed some light.
"Hibiclens contains 4% chlorhexidine gluconate, which reduces bacteria," she said. "It's a molecule that binds to the bacteria wall, destroying the membrane and therefore killing the cell. It can bind to many different types of bacteria — including the bacteria responsible for bad breath and body odor." (But don't drink it!)
Dr. Engelman explained how it works in relation to acne: "[Bacteria] is found deep inside the pores and feeds on excess sebum which creates an environment for bacteria to flourish which leads to breakouts. Hibiclens can help inhibit more growth of bacteria and treat infected areas."
But it can be dangerous if overused."Bacteria can mutate into more resistant strands with overuse of antibacterials," Dr. Engelman says. "It's the same school of thought of how Purell isn't good to use all the time."
For those with recurrent skin infections and acne, Dr. Engelman advises against using Hibiclens more than two to three times per week. To be safe, we recommend talking to your dermatologist before going down this route, but if you get the OK, you might just have a future of odor-free pits and bump-free skin to look forward to. At least that's what my dad says.
Hibiclens Solution, $12.99, available at CVS.
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