Antiseptic vs. Antibacterial

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Antiseptic and Antibacterial is that the Antiseptic is a antimicrobial substance and Antibacterial is a drug used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections.

  • Antiseptic

    Antiseptics (from Greek ἀντί anti, “against” and σηπτικός sēptikos, “putrefactive”) are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction. Antiseptics are generally distinguished from antibiotics by the latter’s ability to be transported through the lymphatic system to destroy bacteria within the body, and from disinfectants, which destroy microorganisms found on non-living objects.

    Some antiseptics are true germicides, capable of destroying microbes (bacteriocidal), while others are bacteriostatic and only prevent or inhibit their growth.

    Antibacterials are antiseptics that have the proven ability to act against bacteria. Microbicides which destroy virus particles are called viricides or antivirals.

  • Antibacterial

    Antibiotics (from ancient Greek αντιβιοτικά, antibiotiká), also called antibacterials, are a type of antimicrobial drug used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections. They may either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria. A limited number of antibiotics also possess antiprotozoal activity. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses such as the common cold or influenza; drugs which inhibit viruses are termed antiviral drugs or antivirals rather than antibiotics.

    Sometimes the term antibiotic (which means “opposing life”) is used to refer to any substance used against microbes, synonymous with antimicrobial. Some sources distinguish between antibacterial and antibiotic; antibacterials are used in soaps and disinfectants, while antibiotics are used as medicine.

    Antibiotics revolutionized medicine in the 20th century. However, their effectiveness and easy access have also led to their overuse, prompting bacteria to develop resistance. This has led to widespread problems, so much as to prompt the World Health Organization to classify antimicrobial resistance as a “serious threat [that] is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country”.

  • Antiseptic (adjective)

    Of, or relating to antisepsis, or the use of antiseptics.

  • Antiseptic (adjective)

    Capable of preventing microbial infection.

  • Antiseptic (adjective)

    Very clean; aseptic.

  • Antiseptic (adjective)

    Free of unpleasantness; sanitized or bowdlerized.

  • Antiseptic (noun)

    Any substance that inhibits the growth and reproduction of microorganisms. Generally includes only those that are used on living objects (as opposed to disinfectants) and aren’t transported by the lymphatic system to destroy bacteria in the body (as opposed to antibiotics).

  • Antibacterial (adjective)

    Killing or inhibiting bacteria.

    “This drug has an antibacterial effect.”

  • Antibacterial (adjective)

    Opposing the theory that diseases are caused by bacteria.

  • Antibacterial (noun)

    A drug having the effect of killing or inhibiting bacteria.

    “Many household products contain antibacterials.”


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