Research Project - Comparing Antiseptics, Antibiotics and Disinfectants

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Biology Coursework – Research

Antiseptics can be classified according to their chemical structure. Frequently used antiseptics include:

  • Alcohols – Used as a skin disinfectant. It is effective against a range of microorganisms. It acts fast in killing microorganisms. Has a drying effect on skin and so should not be used on mucous membranes. To be effective, it must dry completely. Alcohol can also be diluted for the most microorganisms to be killed.
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds - Used as a skin disinfectant, for irrigation (artificial applications of water to land or soil, it helps them grow), and eye drop preservative.
  • Chlorhexidine – Used as a pre-operation skin disinfectant, to treat wounds and bladder irrigations.
  • Antibacterial dyes – Used as a skin disinfectant and to treat wounds and burns.
  • Peroxides and permanganates – Used as a wound cleanser, mouthwashes, irrigations and skin disinfectant.
  • Halogenated phenol derivatives – Used as skin disinfectants, medicated soaps and solutions.
  • Quinolone derivatives – Used to treat wounds, as throat lozenges and skin disinfectant.
  • Iodine - This is a popular antiseptic used against a range of microorganisms. It acts fast but can cause skin irritation.
  • Hexachlorophene - Among the other antiseptics, this has the least effectiveness against most microorganisms. It is toxic to the nervous system.



Savlon Solution

It is an antiseptic and is used in first-aid to clean wounds and prevent infection. It contains two medicines called Chlorhexidine and cetrimide which are both antiseptics that kill germs. This medicine is available as a liquid that is diluted in water before using.

Savlon Antiseptic Liquid cleanses and helps prevent infection, helping natural healing of minor skin injuries. Savlon Antiseptic Liquid may also be used in bathing or midwifery to help cleanse the skin.

The purified water is one of the ingredients, it’s passed through a filtration membrane, and the water is cleared of particles and microbes. An ion exchanger removes unwanted dissolved solids such as metals. The methylhydroxy-benzoate and propylhydroxy-benzoate preservatives prevent bacteria and fungi from breeding. Chlorhexidine gluconate is a very powerful antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic; effective against mouth ulcers, it is also found in Corsodyl mouthwash.

Creams like savlon contain two types chemicals, one which is an antiseptic to kill and germs (bacteria) and one which promotes clotting and healing.

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In the body, when the injury occurs the damaged cells release chemicals to get white cells to kill bacteria, platelets to start clotting and for new cells to start to be made (scar, skin, muscle etc.). Savlon contains man made versions of these chemicals which promote clotting and healing.  

How Do Antiseptics Work?

Chemicals that kill microorganisms outside the body are known as antiseptics. Antiseptics can be used to clean an open wound as well as surfaces on objects such as toilets.  

Antiseptics are medicines that slow or stop the growth of germs and help prevent infections in ...

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