What does Antisepsis Mean?

Antisepsis is the action of destroying or inhibiting microorganisms (infectious agents or pathogens) that exist in living tissue. The word antisepsis comes from the Greek roots anti- which means against and -sepsis which means deterioration or putrefaction.

The procedures used for antisepsis are for example isolation techniques, the use of suitable clothing, laminar flow technique and use of antiseptic products.

Antiseptic techniques are generally divided into 3 types:

  • Degermination: it consists of a superficial sweep to reduce the presence of microorganisms, such as washing hands with soap.
  • Disinfection: consists in reducing or partially eliminating microorganisms by means of chemical substances such as alcohol.
  • Sterilization: consists in the total elimination of microorganisms in an object or area using physical methods such as heat, radiation or filtration or using chemical methods such as ethylene dioxide, ionizing ulta or aldehydes.

The products used for antisepsis are called antiseptics that are defined as substances that kill or prevent the growth of microorganisms. Among the most used antiseptics today is iodine, boric acid and alcohol.

Antisepsis is important because when living tissue or skin is broken, by means of a scratch or a burn for example, the breakage allows the growth of microorganisms in said wound. Microorganisms that are present in healthy skin such as bacteria, viruses and fungi reproduce quickly in this situation.

Asepsis differs from antisepsis because they are prevention procedures that prevent the arrival of microorganisms to a medium. It is commonly called medical asepsis and its goal is to prevent the transmission of infectious agents.

The aseptic surgery or surgical asepsis for example is the use of sterilized instruments, sutures and clothing suitable to prevent pathogens entering the body being operated causing diseases.