Categories: Health & Fitness

Mouthwash: list, instructions for use, precautions

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Sore throat, irritation, difficulty swallowing… Mouthwashes are recommended for mild to moderate sore throat without fever. What exactly do they contain? How to use them well? What side effects can we expect? We take stock.

Definition: what is a mouthwash?

Mouthwashes are locally acting drugs, prescribed in case of mild sore throat and without fever, but also sometimes in case of mouth ulcers or small sores in the mouth. They do not directly treat the cause of these phenomena, but relieve the symptoms. This is why it is called an adjunctive treatment.

In practice, they are found in pharmacies and drugstores in the form of a spray. They are available over the counter, but subject to several contraindications – especially in children – due to their composition (actives and excipients).

When to use a mouthwash?

Specifically, mouthwashes act locally and quickly line the mucous membranes. They are classified into several categories, according to their mode of action:

  • THE antibacterial mouthwasheswhich fight against bacteria;
  • THE antibacterial and anti-inflammatory mouthwasheswhich contain a corticosteroid and reduce inflammation and pain;
  • THE antibacterial and analgesic mouthwasheswhich reduce pain by lightly numbing the tissues;
  • and the only analgesic mouthwashes.

Note: Mouthwashes do not have antibiotic properties. Consult a doctor in case of fever or ENT infection!

How to take a mouthwash?

As stated above, mouthwashes usually come in the form of local spray to be sprayed directly on the affected mucous membranes.

The user manual is very simple. Before use, remember to shake the bottle. In some cases, it will be necessary to operate the pump several times before it works. Now then the bottle in vertical position and place the tip towards your mouth. Finally, spray the product. In some cases, it is possible to apply said product by brushing it directly on the area to be treated using a cotton swab.

Repeat the operation two to six times a day at least four hours apart, as advised by your doctor or pharmacist. In addition, it is better to avoid using a mouthwash before drinking or eating: this could affect its effectiveness.

What are the contraindications to consider?

Mouthwashes have a localized but relatively weak action. Also, there are not many contraindications. They mainly concern allergies to one or more components of the products, such as chlorhexidine, fluoride or menthol. Some mouthwashes are also contraindicated in children under 12 or 6 years old.

Furthermore, people with some diseases, such as thyroid damage, should avoid mouthwashes containing iodine. Similarly, people with liver or kidney disease, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol.

Good to know: mouthwashes should not be used without medical advice in case of severe infection or high fever. They should be used according to the dosage and the timing advised by your doctor or pharmacist.

Hexaspray, Colludol, Eludril, Angispray… What are the most effective mouthwashes?

The best known antibacterial mouthwash isHexaspray®.

I’Angispray sore throat®THE Colludol®I’Eludril®I’Humex Sore Throat® and the Strepsilspray® combine an antibacterial with an analgesic.

THE Rhinadvil® is the only mouthwash to combine an antibacterial and a corticosteroid.

THE Lysopaine ambroxol®it is the only mouthwash solely based on analgesics.

There are also other specialties based on plants, essential oils or natural productssuch as Belivair®, Thymospray®, Humer mal de gorge acute®, Puressentiel respiratory throat spray®, etc.

Are there mouthwashes sold without a prescription?

As you read above, all mouthwashes are available over the counter (without prescription) in pharmacies and parapharmacies.

What are the side effects of mouthwashes?

Side effects depend on the composition of each type of mouthwash. They are generally rare, but there are however regularly:

  • hypersensitivity to the product or to any of the excipients contained in the drug, which results in skin rashes, itching, edema, and even anaphylactic shock;
  • transient numbness of the tongue and mucous membranes, which can cause false passages;
  • and/or nauseaor even vomiting (depending on the mode of administration and the active ingredients).

More rarely, some patients may also experience changes in tastedry mouth, stomach or stomach aches, diarrhea, even visual disturbances or discoloration of the tongue and teeth (reversible when treatment is stopped).

Pregnancy, breast-feeding, epilepsy… What precautions for use with mouthwashes?

Mouthwashes are indicated only in case of mild to moderate symptoms and no feveroften in addition to another treatment prescribed by a health professional.

  • Some mouthwashes may contain alcohol: alert your doctor or pharmacist in case of pregnancy,feeding with milkliver disease, alcoholism or epilepsy. Similarly, specify if the mouthwash is intended for a child.
  • Those containing a topical corticosteroid may possibly trigger visual disturbances. If you have eye symptoms, do not hesitate to carry out an ophthalmological examination so as not to aggravate the situation.
  • Finally, mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine can stain the teeth and even the tongue. So be sure to adopt good oral hygiene !

Follow the instructions of your doctor or pharmacist: to limit side effects, do not use your mouthwash for more than five days in a row. And to guarantee its effectiveness, use it away from meals.

To conclude, if you face an episode of fever, or if your symptoms change, stop the treatment and seek medical advice!


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