This article provides a description of polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB), its current uses and clinical outcomes, and potential uses.

Review of Relevant Literature

PHMB is an antiseptic agent from the cationic biocide family, which also includes chlorhexidine. In vitro testing has found it to be effective against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, fungi and viruses. Its action is directed toward disruption of the cell wall, a mechanism not known for developing resistance. PHMB is currently used for many other products and industries for more than 50 years. Dressings impregnated with PHMB are now successfully being used to prevent surgical site infections.


Elimination of catheter-related bloodstream infection (CR-BSI) is now the achievable goal for all healthcare settings. The use of PHMB provides another engineering tool targeting the skin as the source of these infections. Successful use with prevention of surgical site infections is now being reported. These wounds can become infected with the same organisms as those found in CRBSI.

Implications for Clinical Practice

This agent should be considered for clinical studies to determine the rates of CRBSI reduction resulting from its use.

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