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Chapter 3. A Survey of Antibiotics > Antiseptics and Disinfectants Decontaminat...

Antiseptics and Disinfectants Decontaminate Surfaces

Antiseptics and disinfectants kill microbes, but they are not considered antibiotics because they are too toxic for internal use. They damage pathogens in a variety of ways, from breaking macromolecules to creating holes in cell membranes. Antiseptics are agents applied to the skin. Alcohol and compounds commonly included in hand-washing lotions are considered to be antiseptics. Disinfectants are agents used on inanimate surfaces. Bleach and formaldehyde fall in this category. Some agents, such as iodine and quaternary ammonium compounds, are in both categories. Antiseptics and disinfectants are especially important in hospitals prior to surgery, because microbes present on skin can enter wounds and establish serious infections.


  

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