The Difference Between Disinfectants and Antiseptics and its Importance in MedicineTerohan Nula March 6, 2015 0 COMMENTS
There are differences between disinfectants and antiseptics; everyone understands that. But, the odd thing about this scenario, though, is that many people don’t understand what those differences actually are. It’s obvious to see how this can be problematic, especially when talking about corrosive and potentially harmful chemicals.
Where to Kill Bacteria
The best way to understand the differences between disinfectants and antiseptics is to know the many similarities between the two. The most important of such similarities is the nature of their job, which is killing germs; a job that they do very well. The product Optim 33 tb is an excellent example of the efficiency of a disinfectant that many praise as a fast and convenient product.
Both disinfectants and antiseptics kill bacteria rapidly upon contact; the difference lies in the arena where they do this. A disinfectant is an agent that destroys microbial life on surfaces and non-living objects, while antiseptics do the same thing on biological and organic surfaces such as skin.
Many people disregard the differences of these terms, and use them interchangeably. The most egregious offenders would be the people who everyone else trusts to know the difference – doctors. It’s not uncommon for doctors to tell their patients to clean themselves with “disinfectants,” which is similar to saying that people should wash their hands using bleach. Of course, not many people will make such a dangerous mistake, but it opens the possibility for such an error to happen nonetheless.
Where Distinct Responsibilities Lie
Microbiologists and chemists will object to the above statement stating that when doctors say disinfectant, they mean phenolic compounds that can act as disinfectants as well as antiseptics. This is a valid reason—or it would be if doctors actually bothered to explain the distinction of phenolic compounds to their patients, which is doubtful.
This isn’t to say that doctors should hold full-blown chemistry lectures at every appointment when this question comes up. But, it is their responsibility to ensure that their patients have enough knowledge and understanding about what they talked about before the appointment ends.
The effects of incorrectly categorizing disinfectants and antiseptics may seem like a minor issue in the face of more pressing medical situations. But, it’s an easily avoidable issue that everyone involved would much rather do without.