The Skeletal formula of Hexachlorophene, a compound included in pHisoHex

What Was Phisohex?

Jenny is so delighted to be at the mall, but it is also where she begins to feel sick. The excruciating pain she feels leads her to sweat profusely, as she goes pale. Linda, her mother, sees this and takes her to the public restroom. But Jenny was still unwell. Linda then carries Jenny and runs to the train station. When they get there, she holds the rail as the train speeds along. They get to the hospital, and Linda clutches to whatever she can to keep steady while the doctors take care of her.

All this had happened, but Linda is unaware that she isn’t the only one who might be infected throughout the actions. From the mall, where anyone can go about to the public restroom, which is highly germy, Linda has brushed her body upon many possibly contaminated things. Public Transportation is not excluded from being a place where what one touches, another person has, and that person could have touched many other dirty objects. The hospital, where the sick go, is definitely no exception.

This is precisely why we owe so much to those who develop and produce the disinfectants and cleaning agents we have today. Among these are the widely utilized Formaldehyde, Glutaraldehyde, and Hydrogen Peroxide. Hexachlorophene used to be one of the frequently used disinfectants. But why is it no longer of widespread use? Well, there’s no need to worry, as everything about this once popular compound will be discussed in this article.

What is Hexachlorophene?

Ball-and-Stick model of hexachlorophene, a compound included in pHisoHex

This substance is commonly known as pHisoHex or Nabac. It is an organochlorine compound and a bacteriostatic cleansing agent. It has exhibited bacteriostatic action against gram-positive bacteria like staphylococci. Although it dissolves in chloroform, acetone, ethanol, and diethyl ether, it is insoluble in water.

In medicine, it can be deemed useful for its antibacterial and anti-infective properties. It has been known for being utilized as a surgical scrub and bacteriostatic cleanser for the skin. Some had selected it to control the outbreak of gram-positive infections when other measures were unsuccessful. In agriculture, it can be used as an acaricide, fungicide, and plant bactericide.

Although it serves many purposes to multitudes, it has been circulated less, and a number of manufacturers have ceased to continue production.

The compound, hexachlorophene or pHisoHex, was tested through the LD50.  Also known as median lethal lose, LD50, in toxicology, is a measure of a lethal dose of a pathogen, toxin, or radiation.  Through this test, hexachlorophene was labeled relatively toxic. According to Ullmann’s Encyclopedia, it isn’t mutagenic or teratogenic. However, it is “embryotoxic” and can exhibit teratogenic effects, as published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

In 1972, a French brand of baby powder called Bébé was manufactured with 6% hexachlorophene. Unfortunately, this has led to the central nervous system’s damage to a hundred babies, and caused 39 babies’ death.

On the same year, the U.S. had 15 recorded deaths linked to hexachlorophene’s use. Because of this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ceased the production and distribution of anything that had more than 1% hexachlorophene. After this occurrence, hexachlorophene would only be in the hand of a consumer when they have a doctor’s prescription in the other.

In a more technical viewpoint, pHisoHex is one of the two commercial preparations of hexachlorophene. The other is pHisoDerm, and these were widely used as antibacterial skin cleansers in acne treatment. But because of more recent studies, pHisoDerm was reformulated to contain no hexachlorophene, and pHisoHex, which has 3% hexachlorophene, was made available as a prescribed body wash.

In countries Germany and Austria, hexachlorophene was banned and forbidden since 1985 and 1990, respectively.

Today, there are regulations for the use of pHisoHex. Most certainly, they cannot be used for bathing babies and infants. This is because they can absorb their active compounds more readily than older individuals. This absorption can have effects on the central nervous system. Secondly, this compound should not be applied to burned or denuded skin, resulting in neurotoxicity and even death. pHisoHex can’t be used by people who have exhibited primary light sensitivity to halogenated phenol derivatives. Some people may experience redness, scaling, or dryness when using pHisoHex, and the most adverse side effects are photosensitivity and dermatitis.

Although pHisoHex or hexachlorophene need utmost caution when using, it can still be of use to many people, hospitals, and agriculturists. What is vital is that these individuals keep in mind everything that has happened, and there is to know about this exciting compound.