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Encyclopedia > Antibacterial

An antiseptic is a substance that kills or prevents the growth of bacteria on the external surfaces of the body. It can be contrasted with antibiotics which perform a similar function within the body, and disinfectants which operate on nonliving objects such as medical instruments.

The widespread introduction of antiseptic surgical methods followed the publishing of the paper Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery in 1867 by Joseph Lister, inspired by the findings of Louis Pasteur. Some of this work was preceded slightly by that of Dr. George H Tichenor and Ignaz Semmelweis.

Some common antiseptics are:

  • Alcohol: Used to disinfect the skin before injections are given.
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds (such as Benzalkonium chloride): Used as a pre-operative skin disinfectant. Antiseptic towels are often impregnated with this chemical.
  • Boric acid: Uses in suppositories to treat yeast infections of the vagina, in eyewashes, and as an antiviral to shorten the duration of cold sore attacks. Put into creams for burns.
  • Chlorhexidine Gluconate: Used as a skin disinfectant and to treat inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Used as a 6% (20Vols) solution to clean and deodorise wounds and ulcers.
  • Iodine: Usually used in an alcohol solution to disinfect minor wounds and as a pre- and post-operative disinfectant.
  • Mercurochrome: Not recognized as safe and effective by the U.S. FDA due to concerns about its mercury content.
  • Phenol compounds: Used as a "scrub" for pre-operative hand cleansing. Used in the form of a powder as an antiseptic baby powder, where it is dusted onto the belly button as it heals. Also used in mouthwashes and throat lozenges, where it has a painkilling effect as well as an antiseptic one.
  • Sodium chloride: Used as a general cleanser. Also used as an antiseptic mouthwash.
  • Ultraviolet light: Used for sterilization of laboratories, hospitals, and washrooms, as well as to sanitize drinking water.

  Results from FactBites:
APUA: Q&A's about Antibacterials (1675 words)
Antibacterials may be divided into two groups according to their speed of action and residue production: The first group contains those that act rapidly to destroy bacteria, but quickly disappear (by evaporation or breakdown) and leave no active residue behind (referred to as non-residue-producing).
The non-residue producing agents (Table of Antibacterials) have been used for many years and continue to be effective agents for controlling disease organisms in a wide variety of healthcare and domestic settings.
Antibacterials are not discriminating and an all-out attack on bacteria in general is unjustified.
Antibacterial material for water - Patent 5011602 (4877 words)
When this antibacterial material for water is placed in water, microorganisms living in the water would pass through the fabric and approach the carrier, so that they are attacked by the antibacterial agent contained therein and die.
A known antibacterial material for water comprises a particulate antibacterial composition comprising zeolite as a carrier, wherein metal(s) capable of ion exchange contained in said zeolite are exchanged with at least one metal selected from among silver, copper and zinc (cf.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an antibacterial material for water capable of killing microorganisms living in water at the same efficiency when retained in water for a prolonged period of time, i.e., an antibacterial material for water showing a sustained antibiotic effect.
  More results at FactBites »



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