Benzalkonium chloride is a mixture of alkylbenzyl dimethylammonium chlorides. It is a rapidly acting surface disinfectant and detergent active against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria and certain viruses, fungi, yeasts, and protozoa; applied topically to the skin and mucous membranes. Benzalkonium chloride and hexachlorophine are used primarily as hand scrubs or face washes. Benzalkonium may also find application is a disinfecting agent for instruments, and in low concentration as a preservative for drugs including ophthalmic solutions. It is inactivated by organic compounds, including soap, and must not be applied to areas which have not been fully rinsed. This chemical lowers surface tension permitting better penetration of meatal skin. It also is a cationic germicide of high bactericidal and bacteriostatic potency. It is also used as an antimicrobial preservative in ophthalmic solutions.
This product is a cationic quaternary ammonium surface-acting agent. It is very soluble in water, alcohol, and acetone. Aqueous solutions of benzalkonium chloride are neutral to slightly alkaline, generally colorless, and nonstaining. They have a bitter taste, aromatic odor, and foam when shaken.
Benzalkonium chloride solutions are rapidly acting anti-infective agents with a moderately long duration of action. They are active against bacteria and some viruses, fungi, and protozoa. Bacterial spores are considered to be resistant. Solutions are bacteriostatic or bactericidal according to their concentration. The exact mechanism of bactericidal action is unknown but is thought to be due to enzyme inactivation. Activity generally increases with increasing temperature and pH. Gram-positive bacteria are more susceptible than gram-negative bacteria
Its solutions also demonstrate deodorant, wetting, detergent, keratolytic, and emulsifying activity. These solutions in appropriate dilutions are indicated for the antisepsis of skin, mucous membranes, and wounds. They are used for preoperative preparation of the skin, surgeons' hand and arm soaks, treatment of wounds, preservation of ophthalmic solutions, irrigations of the eye, body cavities, bladder, urethra, and vaginal douching.