Antiseptics are antimicrobial chemicals applied to the skin or mucous membrane to prevent infection. Today, it is frequently used both in medical settings and daily life. They preventing the proliferation and spread of germs should not be confused with disinfectants with a fatal effect on microorganisms. With multiple ways of use, antiseptics are available on the market as solutions, gel, or cream. Baticon, alcohol and hydrogene peroxide are the most commonly used antiseptics; they are indispensible parts of surgical and first aid interventions.
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Antiseptic is a chemical substance which stops or slows the proliferations of harmful microorganisms without killing them. It is often used to reduce the risk of infection, especially during surgery and other medical interventions. Different types are used in medical settings.
For example, surgeons wash their hands and arms with antiseptics before a surgery, thereby minimizing the risk of infection which may occur during a surgery. The most commonly used types are alcohol, baticon and hydrogen peroxide.
Disinfectants are used to kill or eliminate microorganisms. Another area of use is to neutralize viruses and germs on fomites and surfaces (medical devices, equipments, wall, ground etc.). Exposure of the skin or living surfaces to disinfectants made of strong chemicals should be avoided; temporal or permanent damage may occur.
It is not true that they are similar products. The biggest difference is that antiseptics are applied to the skin and living surfaces; however, disinfectants are used on fomites and equipments. Exposure of the skin to disinfectants should definitely be avoided.
For example, a surgeon uses an antiseptic to clean the area of intervention during a surgery. However, s/he uses a disinfectant to sanitize an operation table. (1)
Both of them contain a chemical called biocide. It is a chemical helping prevent microorganisms at lower concentrations and eliminate them at higher concentration
They are applied to the skin and mucous membrane where germs are present in high density. (2)
There are many different ways of use of them in medical settings and other enviroments. For example:
Antiseptic wipes and hand disinfectants should be stored out of the reach of children and used only as instructed by the product label.
Consult your doctor if you need to use an antiseptic for situations other than superficial wounds.
The concentration of biocide in antiseptics is critical. The antiseptic that you use should not damage the skin, body tissue, and body cells while preventing the proliferation of microorganisms.
After uncovering the container, antiseptics should be used for up to 2 weeks, while those containing alcohol should be used for up to 1 month. They should be kept away from other medicines and stored out of the reach of children.
They should be applied to the sites and wounds with the risk of infection. Unnecessary use may cause skin damage.
They are liquid used to cleanse wounds. They help cleanse and disinfect wounds. The most commonly used solutions are:
Inflammations, infections and edema on the skin surface are treated with the help of antiseptic creams. These creams can be used to treat deep cuts, surgical wounds and burns. Moreover, they help the skin tissue regenerate quickly and reduce damage and pain of the area burnt.
They can be applied to any part of the skin, except the eyes and mouth. An antiseptic cream is applied to the site and the skin is allowed to absorb the cream by rubbing. If they are used for open wounds such as surgical wounds, deep cuts, the site should be covered with a gauze after applying the cream to the tissue. The skin should be cleaned with water before applying the cream again.
Microorganisms have a high level of ability to adapt themselves to different conditions. For example, microorganisms that remain in antiseptic solutions for a long time may develop resistance. In addition, insufficient and incorrent use of an antiseptic may increase this resistance.
Alcoholic antiseptics are absorbed by the skin. Therefore, when used incorrectly, they may cause damage to the skin surface, eye surface, upper respiratory tract and trachea. If povidone-iodine is used incorrectly, though rare, or if an allergic reaction develops, it may cause serious skin damage, burns, cough and dizziness.