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Antiseptics (Greek αντί, against, and σηπτικός, putrefactive) are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction. They should generally be distinguished from antibiotics that destroy microorganisms within the body, and from disinfectants, which destroy microorganisms found on non-living objects. Some antiseptics are true germicides, capable of destroying microbes (bacteriocidal), whilst others are bacteriostatic and only prevent or inhibit their growth. Antibacterials are antiseptics that only act against bacteria.
Additional recommended knowledge
Use in surgery
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 Louis Pasteur's germ theory of putrefaction. In this paper he advocated the use of carbolic acid (phenol) as a method of ensuring that any germs present were killed. Some of this work was anticipated by:
and even the ancient Greek physicians Galen (ca 130–200 AD) and Hippocrates (ca 400 BC). There is even a Sumerian clay tablet dating from 2150 BC advocating the use of similar techniques.
But every antiseptic, however good, is more or less toxic and irritating to a wounded surface. Hence it is that the antiseptic method has been replaced in the surgery of today by the aseptic method, which relies on keeping free from the invasion of bacteria rather than destroying them when present.
How it works
For the growth of bacteria there must be a certain food supply, moisture, in most cases oxygen, and a certain minimum temperature (see bacteriology). These conditions have been specially studied and applied in connection with the preserving of food and in the ancient practice of embalming the dead, which is the earliest illustration of the systematic use of antiseptics.
In early inquiries a great point was made of the prevention of putrefaction, and work was done in the way of finding how much of an agent must be added to a given solution, in order that the bacteria accidentally present might not develop. But for various reasons this was an inexact method, and today an antiseptic is judged by its effects on pure cultures of definite pathogenic celicular single helix microbes, and on their vegetative and spore forms. Their standardization has been affected in many instances, and a water solution of phenol of a certain fixed strength is now taken as the standard with which other antiseptics are compared.
Some common antiseptics
Negative Effects of Antibacterial
People in today’s society have become obsessed with germs and how to get rid of all them. Companies have taken advantage of this weakness and have created over seven hundred products that have an antibacterial quality in them. A recent article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that antibacterial was originally created to be used for the prevention of transmission of diseases in patients, but recently, it has been introduced into healthy homes and has seriously affected the way our immune systems are dealing with real bacterial threats. The overuse of antibacterial is shown to negatively affect the T Helper cell response in the immune system which can lead to a greater chance of allergies in children. Also, though antibacterial may kill germs it is reducing the contact our immune systems have with these germs. If the body never learns to fight off the small bacteria it is more likely that when infected with a more serious disease the body is less likely to be able to battle off the infection. Another serious concern that doctors have with antibacterial is that it is creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. Bacteria have begun to mutate in order to beat the new antibacterial craze. These “superbugs”, like the bacterium MRSA, cannot be cured with antibiotics and so doctors have to find other ways to battle these deadly diseases.
Reference: Levy, Stuart B. "Antibacterial Household Products: Cause for Concern." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 08 Aug 2001 09 Dec 2007
Categories: Microbiology | Antiseptics
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Antiseptic". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|