PHISOHEX

Posted on 22 October 2002

I stumbled across this report this morning. This case has been in the system for almost a decade… I actually served on a jury that sat on this case back in the mid-90′s. We listened to 2 days of testimony when were mysteriously “let go”. I had always assumed that the case was closed due to some back room settlement, but now I see that that isn’t true at all. I have to say that in the two days I listened to testimony, I was also convinced that pHisoHex had no role in the kid’s mental retardation.


Comments On This Article

  1. S. Hamilton wrote on: 20 December 10:01 am

    Weren’t there cases back in the 1970′s concerning pHisoHex causing disorders in new-born infants? Where is that history?

  2. Sandra wrote on: 31 March 12:42 pm

    To Squidly.com :I have been searching for information on the over the counter face cleansers like (lemon-up) and another phisohex plus citrus type face cleanser that was taken off the market after the phisohex scare in 1972 I believe. At first I was looking for the ingredients for the cleanser otc that I cannot remember the name of. It worked so well that I was looking for something similiar without the phisohex . I have been seeing that not only babies health were being affected. But I am so new at the pc and searching that I cannot get to far and want to know just how I would find out who really was ill from this. Not too long after stopping the use of phisohex, a couple of years, I was getting ill all the time, headaches, extreme fatigue and severe memory loss plus much more. Stopped sweating, could not take simple medicines any longer, phobias for the first time and it continued to get worse, enviromental reaction for the first time. Now, the Dr.s still are puzzled and they guess fibromyalgia – plus many other possibilities. So ill that I have been on permanent disability for 15 years. So now I also see quite a few fibromyalgia sufferers also searching for what triggered the beginning of the auto-immune problems plus all the related problems associated with it. So, I hope I am not too unclear on what I am looking for. How to find adults that had problems after using phisohex. My fibromyalgia symptoms are so extreme that the mental fog I experience can make my speech unfocused and not to clear and so bare with me. Send me information or where I can find some where to look. Thanks

  3. BillB wrote on: 2 April 11:47 am

    Sandra,
    I’m not really a Phisohex historian…I simply served on a jury that was sitting on a case involving the product. As it would turn out, the case was later decided in the favor of the manufacturers.

    To start your research, I suggest you head to http://google.com and type in search terms like Phisohex and fibromyalgia and so forth. Best of luck…

  4. Observant wrote on: 24 April 8:18 am

    The active ingredient in pHisohex was hexachlorophne, a powerful antiseptic…but, an inevitable part of the manufacturing process leaves residual amounts of dioxin which can be absorbed through the skin…so pHisohex is now only used in hospitals and Ipana Toothpaste has vanished from America…

  5. Ruth wrote on: 15 June 7:06 pm

    I remember in the 70′s when my son was born we used the product Phisoderm, which was sent home with us from the hospitol. A case erupted about that time and as I recall the baby was retarded and the cause was the chemical being absorbed through the scalp. I thought they took that chemical out and renamed the product phisohex. I discontinued it totally. Presently my son who is now 35 has been recently diagnosed with a lipoma in his cortex hemisphere. He is seeing a neurologist this week for more information. Although it supposedly is a fatty tumor/non-metastic it can cause seizures and of course mental anguish over this. I was immediately thrown back into that fear state when he was a baby and the possibility that there could be something wrong (and I had caused it). If you have any more information please keep me posted. I really do not know if there is a correlation here but will be keeping all avenues of information open. thanks Ruth

  6. megan wrote on: 24 July 1:42 pm

    Phisohex is no longer used because it has been proven to cause neuroligal damage with prolonged exposure. It is made up of a phenol derivative called Hexachlorophene. Perhaps you may search google using the words phenol derivative or Hexachlorophene.

  7. madison wrote on: 24 July 1:54 pm

    All the problems you guys are adressing about the seizures, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and memory loss is due to the neurological damage caused by the use of phisohex. Pediatricians used to recommend using it to prevent staph infections which grow on the skin of newborns and for general cleansing of newborns until they discovered that prolonged use caused neurological damage. It is still available but only by prescription, however, I would not recommend using it at all!

  8. madison wrote on: 24 July 1:57 pm

    Me again, if you go to google.com and type in “phisohex and neurological damage” it will bring up tons of articles for you to research.

  9. Ken Pruett wrote on: 1 September 3:28 pm

    I remember doctors complaining that phisoderm was causing tumors on the backs of their hands caused from scrubing up prior to and after handling patients & or surgery. This was during or before the baby shampoo incidents of the mid 60′s. Our son was born in 65 and
    we quit using a phisohex or phisoderm shampoo because of the scare at that time (CA 1966)

  10. bARBARA wrote on: 19 November 5:22 am

    My older son was born in late 1048. When he was a toddler, I was taking him to a pediatrician who told me that if I would use pHisoHex on my own face, it would clear up my skin. It was the first that I had heard of the product, which I then bought and used for several years. When another son was born in late 1961, I was interested to see that, just after his birth, he was sudsed all over in the delivery room with pHisoHex, which was dispensed from a huge container suspended next to the area where he was being cleansed.

    I don’t remember ever using the product on my children (no one ever suggested that), but I used it until I somehow heard that it had been deemed unsafe and was replaced by pHisoDerm, which did not contain hexachlorophene. Then that producxt also disappeared from the market, and, to my regret, I was never able to find it again. I seem not to have suffered from the use of these products, but I only used them on my face.

    I don’t know that this will help any of you out there, but it may give you some dates to go by.

  11. Brad wrote on: 2 December 11:39 am

    pHisoHex has reduced the amount of hexachlorophine down from 4% to 3% but it is just as effective in eliminating bacteria that cause body odor. Been using it for decades on potentially smelly areas in lieu of deodorants without any adverse effects.

  12. Amy wrote on: 15 January 10:41 pm

    I was recently prescribed Phisohex to inhibit a constant bacterial infection on my skin, but after reading this information, I don’t know if I want to continue using it. It has cleared up my skin, but if it is going to cause more health problems, I don’t see the benefit.

  13. Jack wrote on: 10 February 7:47 am

    i have a staff infection on my leg. doctor proscribed me PHisoHex to put on both legs but ive heard the storys and i dont know if i should follow through with putting it on my legs

  14. martina wrote on: 27 February 12:48 am

    Im 38 and have used phisohex for meny infections on myself and family and my mom used it on all her family and family pets, it worked wonders,im sorry that one cant buy it over the counter.we used it as needed not and small amounts ,after all so little worked just fine.so we all grew up with phisohex, then phisoderm.we preffer phisohex and every one is okay.no worrys here.thank you

  15. Penny wrote on: 14 March 11:05 pm

    My Son was born in 1970. We were sent home from the hospital with Phisoderm, to be used as baby’s bath. I faithfully used it. He has struggled with possible Adds, hyperactity, you name it. This has been a lifelong struggle for him (and family). No medications perscribed for these conditions have helped. I just found your website and possibly this is the problem. I would appreciate any information out there relating to this problem. Thank you.
    Penny

  16. Suz wrote on: 1 June 9:11 pm

    Did Phisohex come in a green container with a honeycomb pattern on the bottle?

  17. G Chalfant G wrote on: 24 June 9:28 pm

    Do You remember Germ Free DEFEND, antibacterial fabric softener? Also , Dial soap, the first bar soap sold as antibacterial, contained hexachlorophene. 1950 I first used it.

    So how do the claims of hexachlorophene caused cancer compare to the over 250,000 bacterial infection related deaths reported to occur in U.S. hospitals. NIH? AMA?

    Bring it back. Just don’t drink it.

  18. susan wrote on: 27 June 7:19 am

    Hi.
    I am currently using Phisohex as a facewash.
    I’m from Australia (bought the Phisohex from here..). I am wondering if it is the same as the one that was in America. On the bottle it says that the active ingredient is Tricolsan 1% & aslo contains benzoate. It does not mention any other ingredients. It is average in regards to the effect it has on clearing up my skin, but if there are side effects – especially like the ones mentioned here – i would definately discard of it immediately, but i am not sure it is the same thing.
    Thanks a lot.

  19. Cliff wrote on: 8 July 1:58 pm

    I would like to know if anyone out there can tell me exactly what effects Phisohex has on people adults or infants

  20. Margot wrote on: 23 October 4:35 pm

    I was told by my doctor who recommended it in the 1950s that Phisohex was a surgical scrub. We used it for cleaning bathrooms and washing our hands following the birth of a baby. I believe I used it as a shampoo when my first baby had cradle cap, but only a few times. I heard in the seventies that Phisohex was possibly carcinogenic. I kept it in the house using it occasionally to scrub my hands. I looked for it in the drugstore today and was told it may be bought only with a prescription. The pharmacist did say, however, that Phisoderm is still on the shelves but that it lacks the active ingredient of Phisohex. It is not, however, available as far as I can tell. I had no idea, however, that Dial soap contained hexachlorophene. For decades, Dial was the only bath soap in our house. We used it,I believe from its very early years. I didn’t entirely trust it, however, wondering how a deodorant soap in daily use could hold safe over decades. But I miss it and have given up looking for a deodorant soap.
    I am interested in knowing what hospitals use to avoid staph infections and what they use when staph does strike.

  21. Becky wrote on: 19 November 11:56 pm

    For woman who worried about her son’s ADD, etc. trust me – my boys have ADD, depression, etc. Family history. Thousands of kids with ADD never used Phisohex.

    Used Dial soap all my life while it had hexachlorephene. Never heard of problems.

    I ordered Phisohex from Australia. Comment above says it may not different ingredient. Anyone know where to get real hexacholorophene? My son has acne, and it is the only thing that helped mine, and his fathers.

  22. Ted Cole wrote on: 3 February 10:56 pm

    Have used phisohex sparingly for years. Since it is absorbed through the skin, it is effective for stubborn infections under the surface. Usually scrub the area, leave it on for a minute or less & wash it off! It is very effective. I have suffered no ill effects that I am aware of.

  23. Zimminger wrote on: 28 October 10:35 pm

    Hi, folks. I’ve been checking on this for my daughter and it seems that hexachlorophene soaps are only available by prescription, having been replaced with triclosan (a related compound). A shame because it worked well when used properly.

    Hexachlorophene is neurotoxic and can cause convulsions and death if enough is absorbed. It should only be used as necessary and where necessary, not as a routine overall soap, and should be thoroughly rinsed off. It shouldn’t be used on abraded/damaged skin or mucous membranes and never as a cream.

    The problems came when it was used as an overall bath for infants (exposing the entire body surface to absorption instead of only the face as when you treat acne, or hands before surgery) and when it was used on burn victims, where raw skin could soak it up like a sponge. That’s very different from using it on your face a couple times a day and rinsing thoroughly. It’s been tested as a cancer risk and they haven’t found that it can cause any tumors, malignant or benign.

    I can’t really fault them for restricting its use, because too many people don’t follow directions and the consequences with this chemical could be lethal. Still, that’s IMMEDIATELY lethal. “Lingering for years” effects haven’t been noticed despite the product’s former popularity. The same thing can be observed with DEET insect repellant. Cover up and then spray exposed skin. Wear only shorts and spray all over a few times in a day and you could wind up in the hospital.

  24. hank wrote on: 2 December 11:38 am

    Sorry to just “jump in” on this discussion. I must begin by stating that I am in no way qualified to address this issue with any authority, but I can share what I know.

    Recently I was “helping” someone prepare for board certification in Neonatology and my job was to wander through large medical texts and ask questions at random. (I am unqualified to do this as well.) One question I posed (derived from the text) had to do with the use of a hexachlorophine wash to prevent the spread of bacterial infection in newborns. If I recall correctly, the text (Avroy Fanaroff, Neonatal and Perinatal Medicine) said a 3% solution was allowable under certain circumstances in certain areas, if done with extreme care; I was immediately corrected: there were studies showing that hexachlorophine could cause brain lesions in newborns, (this makes sense, as their little cranial cavities are not fully formed, especially those of premature infants) and that the use of hexachlorophine in neonatal intensive care facilities is widely, if not universally, discouraged these days.

    (The “hexachorophine” stuck in my mind, as I tried to recall which product used to advertise:
    “Hexa … hexa …hexachlorophine!”

    I thought it was Tide, but I guess it was Ipana toothpaste, which brought me to this page.)

    My suggestion is that if you want any further information on the use of hexachlorophine with infants and/or newborns you should acquire the Fanaroff text (there’s a new edition just out), which is superbly indexed, replete with more citations/footnotes than you can imagine, or contact your local board-certified Neonatologist with your questions.

  25. jan wrote on: 13 December 8:54 am

    Phisohex changed my life in 1971 when I was 13. My acne was atrocious. The pediatrician recommended Phisohex and within a few months my skin was clear. I regained my self-confidence. I continued to use it daily for years, but was careful to rinse thoroughly.I have suffered none of the health conditions associated with the stuff. Same with my two sisters.
    I would like my sons to use it. Should they?

  26. Brent wrote on: 3 January 12:43 pm

    I basically ran across this as I was shopping for the old formula phisoderm. There seems to be some confusion about it’s history. I have been using mostly phisoderm for about 25 years, and love it. I also used phisohex sparingly in my acne years. They were available at the same time in the late 70′s. I don’t think Phisohex can be had any more without a prescription, and yes, the hexachlorophine formula can still be had but at the lower 3% level. However, I have not used it for 20 years. Looking back on it now, it seems I did suffer some loss of mental accuity about the time I started using Phisohex, but I am fairly certain that I did not start using phisohex until after I now recall noticing the change in mental accuity. About that time I also had increased allergies, and started using allergy injections which I now attribute to much of my problems, if not all – later when I had the allergy formula changed, those problems seemed to clear up. So I am now doubtful phisohex had anything to do with it. Through it all I have used Phisoderm, and believe it to be perfectly safe. It is a wonderful skin cleanser – seeming to leave no film, while stripping excess oil away. It was great at preventing my minor acne just through its cleansing ability. Where breakouts did occur, I supplemented with clearisil type products. I heartily recommend the old formula phisoderm to everyone. The “hex” in phisohex indicated it contains hexachlorophine, and I will attest that it is a powerful chemical – I would not use it heavily – if I were to use it, it would only be on the affected area.
    Phisoderm however, I use anywhere and everywhere – even to get grease out of clothes other cleansers can’t seem to do.

  27. Nick Hardy wrote on: 10 January 6:40 pm

    I used Phisohex as a kid for acne. It was the ONLY thing that worked for me. I used it until I changed to Phisoderm after Phisohex mysteriously disappeared from the market. I used Phisoderm until acne was no longer a problem at about 21 or so. That means I used it for 8 or 9 years continually every day. I didn’t spot any health problems caused by it. If present they would be the vauge sort of problems that are hard to spot and attribute to anything. But I did have headaches and some behaviour problems, but how many teenagers don’t? As I now have a slight amount of adult acne I have tried to buy the product again (hence me finding this page!) but to no avail.

    I am currently using the alternative which here in the UK is called HiBi scrub it is normally available on prescription but can be bought over the counter. I use it sparingly, only applying it with a cotton bud to each individual spot. It seems just as effective and much cheaper! The cheapest I’ve found is £3.99 + post for 500ml. It’s main use is in hospitals and it is prescribed for surgical patients pre and post op washing.

    It contains Chlorahexidine gluconate 4% W/V isopropyl alcohol, polyoxyethylene-polyoxypropylene block copolymer, laurel-dimethyl-amine-oxide, glycerol, macrogol 7 glycerol cocoate, ponceau 4R (E124), herbacol 015393 TB,d-gluconolactone, sodium hydroxide and purified water.

    The stated precautions are: avoid contact with meninges and middle ear. If in contact with eyes wash out immediately and thoroughly with water. In patients with head or spinal injuries or a perforated eardrum, the benefit of use in preoperative preparation should be evaluated against the risk of contact. Do not inject. Do not use in body cavities.

    The stated Side Effects are: Irratative skin reactions and generalised allergic reactions to chlorhexidine may occasionally occur. If you experience these or any other reactions not mentioned here stop using the product and contact a medical professional.

    I bought mine from pharmacylink.co.uk

    The manufacturer seems to be: Reagent Medical Overseas Ltd Manchester UK.

    I hope this has been of use!

    BTW I had chronic fatigue syndrome (sometimes called M.E. or myalgic encephalomyelitis) starting about 15 years ago lasting for nearly 8 years in total. I recovered and found that there were a few key things which helped me. Vitamins made no difference except the miraculous (well it was for me) Solgar Megasorb B vitamin complex. The amount I needed slowly dropped over a period of years until I could dispense with the suppliment altogether.I would take the megasorb B until I could think straight then stop. When my brain fog slowly returned I would resume the Megasorb B again, get the picture? The strange thing was a cheap substitute B vitamin complex didn’t work, only the Megasorb B did. (I have nothing to do with the Solgar company BTW) Also in brief you absolutely MUST remove all refined foods (white bread, sugar, rice) from your diet and substitute with good old fashioned unrefined foods. No alcohol at all too. If you want to see what refined factory foods do to you check out “nutrition and physical degeneration” by Price.

  28. marian wrote on: 12 January 12:08 pm

    Phisohex recently came to mind as I wondered if my Dad, age 83, could benefit from it’s use for scaliness of his face, head, ears. I, fortunately/unfortunately, inherited his skin. In some ways, I have benefitted from younger-looking skin but with the scales. Curiously, I thought there must be some problems with the product since I haven’t seen it on the shelves in years. During the product’s popularity of the 70′s, the Phisohex green bottle with pop-up dispenser was a household product. It was used by the whole family including bathing my babies in it. We bought it in the giant size bottles until it became increasingly unavailable. Just as paregoric was readily available for colic, now outlawed (opium deriartive), Phisohex is now by prescription only. Was there any harm done since we used Phisohex/derm routinely in place of a bar of soap? How will we ever know? I’d like to see a chemist’s comments on the subject.

  29. The Last Word wrote on: 31 March 6:51 pm

    My memory of the use of PhisoHex are very unpleasant. My pediatrician recommended this white liquid product in a green plastic bottle to be used. My mother would faithfully bathe her seriously flakey severly cracked scaley dry ezcemed skin infant and then child. I remember the tremendous burning feeling I experienced from daily bathing with PhisoHex. It seemed to strip the top layer of my skin, leaving it pink and sensitive to the touch.

  30. Susan Louise wrote on: 3 January 8:40 pm

    Today my mother and I were just talking about the death of my sister back in 1961. She was only 7 months old. My mom commented on how she thought it might have been caused from this soap that they used to use in the hospitals back then. I asked her what it was called and she told me PhisoHex. I googled it and we are in shock. Lori Lynn was born in August of 1960 and died in March of 1961 from Leukemia. Almost 49 years ago we just today have the answer of WHY?? DAMN YOU PHISOHEX!! My mother said back then it was supposed to be good for the babies, now we know different! Why in the sam hell is this stuff still on the market!! Money wins everytime over lives. I just feel cheated that I never knew my sister because of GREED!! And my mother to this day sheds tears for the daughter she lost 49 years ago. heavenlypups@yahoo.com

  31. Marlene wrote on: 30 January 5:21 am

    I just was wondering what happened to Ipana toothpaste and googled it and found this thread about Phisohex. Yep I bathed my baby in it in the 60s. He is now 41 and lived a life of ADD and very hyper. To this day he is having a hard time with focus and is unable to complete tasks. If I understood this when he was young I could have helped him. Now I feel there is nothing I can do except tell him about this and maybe he will do a body cleanse and do supplements. I represent an awesome company that is 21 years old and started from day 1 with the purpose of research and development of personal care products that are safe and effective for even newborns. I love the products and my grandbabies do very well with them. If interested go to: or
    Their is a list of harmful chemicals to watch out for in what you buy. I now can help people! Marlene

  32. Charlotte M. Blasier wrote on: 30 January 2:20 pm

    My 1st child was born 01/11/1961. I was instructed in the hospital to bathe myself and my daughter daily in Phisohex, of which they gave me several green plastic bottles; And, to wash my breasts right before and right after every time I nursed her. My daughter has had one illness after another. At 8 her appendix ruptured and was abnormally large. She started her periods at age 9. Then, for several years would have one period every spring which lasted for 29 days. The doctors gave up trying to figure it out and said for her it must be normal. She had one child and 9 miscarriages. At 22 years of age after suffering from endometriosis for 4 years, she had a hysterectomy. She was diagnosed with Graves disease, Hashimoto’s disease, Thyroid storms and has an aneurism located on the lower right side of the brain, connected onto the main artery that leads to the hypothalamus. She’s had a tumor in her shoulder removed. She had cervical cancer. She suffers with cluster mygraine headaches. A few days ago her diagnosis was changed from terminal to catastrophic. I didn’t know there actually was a diagnosis worse than terminal. For many, many years her doctors kept insisting she was a DES baby, while I kept insisting that I have never used illicit drugs and took nothing but my prenatal vitamins while pregnant. It was finally discovered and determined what the cause was of my daughter’s extensive health problems. The truth revealed itself in the shape and color of a green plastic bottle with it’s ugly name printed for all to see… PHISOHEX

  33. Betty Keith Lemke wrote on: 14 March 2:27 pm

    In 1960 we were blessed with a beautiful healthy baby girl.
    she was our 4 th child. I was given phisohex at St Josephs hospital in Joliet, Illinois where she was born. I continued using this product to bath her with. Little did we know that 7 1/2 months we would be buring our beautiful little angle, she died of lukemia.Need I say more. This product is deadly, where is the government controle of products lie this & how or why do they get on the market to kill people.
    a very sad mother
    Betty Keith Lemke

  34. Jon Collins wrote on: 19 April 2:30 pm

    I have been using Phisohex since 1963 and have NEVER had anadverse reaction to it. It is an incredible product and those who have maligned this product are off the wall. Unless one drinks it I see no problem using this exceptional product when used as needed and perscribed. And I must say that this product does not and never has caused leukemia. It was never designed to be used as a soap for a child on a contiual basis.

  35. Thelma Louise wrote on: 1 October 7:19 pm

    Times Magazine did an article on this lethal green bottle in 1970. The makers of Phisohex pulled it off the market and no longer tried to push it on the infants and mothers as they realized it was causing neurological damage as well as leukemia. Jon Collins do your homework and why are you defending Phisohex???? Somethings a little fishy here!