The common side effect of benzalkonium chloride is minor irritation at the application site, while severe side effects include redness, pain, swelling and severe allergic reactions, according to Drugs.com. Severe side effects are less common, but anyone with these more severe symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
Benzalkonium chloride solution is a topical antiseptic used for treating minor cuts, scrapes and burns. This antiseptic drug is for topical use only and should not be ingested. Drugs.com reveals that this substance should be kept away from the eyes and not be applied to large parts of the body. Benzalkonium chloride solution is not to be used for deep puncture wounds, animal bites or serious burns.
Benzalkonium chloride solution is also found in household cleaners, cleaning supplies and household disinfectants as a biocide, preservative and surfactant. The Environmental Working Group explains that this drug is associated with severe skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Symptoms of asthma and eczema may also be exacerbated by this chemical.
A study published in 1998 touted benzalkonium chloride as a potential disinfecting agent against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. According to the article in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, this substance is more effective than normal saline solution for controlling bacterial infections found in contaminated orthopaedic wounds.