Pre-Surgical Shower/Bath Instructions

St. Clair Hospital Patient Instructions PreOperative Wipes Bath Sequence

Instructions for Chlorhexidine [CHG] Shower/Bath

Chlorhexidine [CHG] showering or bathing is done to decrease the number of potentially harmful germs on the patient, which decreases the risk of getting a postoperative infection.

  • Patients who are known to have MRSA, VRE, or any other multi-drug resistant organisms should bathe daily for at least 2 days (or up to 5 days if advised by your surgeon) before surgery with CHG antiseptic solution.
  • Patients who do not have a history of MRSA or VRE or other multi-drug resistant organisms or infection should receive a bath or shower the night before surgery, then the morning of surgery, with CHG soap.

Gather the supplies:

  • Antiseptic solution – a 2%-4% chlorhexadine gluconate (CHG) solution (a brand name is Hibiclens, which can be purchased at your local pharmacy)
  • Clean wash cloths (2-3)
  • Clean towels and clean sheets
  • Clean (freshly washed) clothing to put on after bathing

Using CHG in the shower*:

  1.  With each shower, wash and rinse your hair first using your normal shampoo.  Make sure you completely rinse the shampoo from your hair and body.
  2. Apply the antiseptic solution (CHG) to a wet clean washcloth.  Turn the water off in the shower or move away from the water spray to avoid rinsing the soap solution off, then lather your entire body, except your face.  DO NOT USE CHG ON YOUR FACE.
  3. Once you’ve completed the entire lather-down of your body, concentrate for 3 minutes gently washing and lathering your surgical site area.
  • Do not shave any parts of your body.
  • Pay particular attention to skin folds under the breast and armpit area.
  • Avoid scrubbing too hard – you don’t want to irritate or break the skin.
  • Never use the antiseptic solution on your face or near your eyes.
  1. Once you have completed the scrub, turn the water on and rinse the CHG solution off your body completely.  CHG can be drying and irritating to the skin if left to dry.
  2. Do not wash with regular soap after you have used the CHG solution.
  3. Pat yourself dry with a clean, freshly washed towel.  DO NOT apply any powders, deodorants, or lotions.  Dress with freshly washed clothes.  Place clean, freshly laundered sheets on your bed to avoid re-contamination of your skin from cells shed on previous nights.

*If you do not have a shower, use the CHG solution when  you bathe in place of your regular soap.  Wash your entire body (except your face), concentrating on crevices or skin folds.  Rinse off the CHG soap solution with warm tap water (placed in a basin or in the sink).

*Do not attempt to do this bathing in the tub, as the bath water will wash off the CHG soap too quickly

*Disclaimer – adapted from the official “A Guide to Surgery at FMH”

Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon