REVIEW Benzethonium chloride is a bactericidal cationic quaternary ammonium surfactant used as a topical anti-infective agent. It is an ingredient in medicaments, deodorants, cosmetics, toiletries, mouthwashes, , anti-itch ointments, and antibacterial moist towelettes., and is used to disinfect equipment in the food processing and pharmaceutical industries, in surgery, and also as a preservative. The compound is toxic orally as a result of neuromuscular blockade. Benzethonium chloride exhibits a broad spectrum of microbiocidal activity against bacteria, fungi, mold and viruses. Independent testing shows that benzethonium chloride is highly effective against such pathogens as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Clostridium difficile, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, herpes simplex virus (HSV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and norovirus
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifies that the safe and effective concentrations for benzethonium chloride are 0.1-0.2% in first aid products. Aqueous solutions of benzethonium chloride are not absorbed through the skin. It is not approved in the US and Europe for use as a food additive.
In addition to its highly effective antimicrobial activity, benzethonium chloride contains a positively charged nitrogen atom covalently bonded to four carbon atoms. This positive charge attracts it to the skin and hair. This contributes to a soft, powdery afterfeel on the skin and hair, as well as long-lasting persistent activity against microorganisms.
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