Wednesday, 3 July 2013

What is an antibacterial and how are antibacterials classified?

What is an antibacterial and how are antibacterials classified?

In its broadest definition, an antibacterial is an agent that interferes with the growth and reproduction of bacteria. While antibiotics and antibacterials both attack bacteria, these terms have evolved over the years to mean two different things. Antibacterials are now most commonly described as agents used to disinfect surfaces and eliminate potentially harmful bacteria. Unlike antibiotics, they are not used as medicines for humans or animals, but are found in products such as soaps, detergents, health and skincare products and household cleaners.

What is the difference between bacteriostats, sanitizers, disinfectants and sterilizers?

The EPA classifies public health antimicrobials as bacteriostats, sanitizers, disinfectants and sterilizers based on how effective they are in destroying microorganisms. Bacteriostats inhibit bacterial growth in inanimate environments. Sanitizers are substances that kill a certain percentage of test microorganisms in a given time span. Disinfectants destroy or irreversibly inactivate all test microorganisms, but not necessarily their spores. Sterilizers destroy all forms of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms and their spores.

Disinfectants can be further categorized as broad or limited spectrum agents. A broad-spectrum disinfectant destroys both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. A limited-spectrum disinfectant must clearly specify the specific microorganisms against which it works.

  Medical uses

  • Treatment
    • Bacterial infection
    • Protozoan infection, e.g., metronidazole is effective against several parasitics
    • Immunomodulation, e.g., tetracycline, which is effective in periodontal inflammation, and dapsone, which is effective in autoimmune diseases such as oral mucous membrane pemphigoid
  • Prevention of infection
    • Surgical wound
    • Dental antibiotic prophylaxis
    • Conditions of neutropenia, e.g. cancer-related





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