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An antiseptic is primarily used in the medical field to prevent infection of a wound. It can kill various germs such as viruses, fungi and bacteria. Because of this antiseptic effect, antiseptics are also used as disinfectants.
With the help of our antiseptic test 2021, we would like to provide you with all the important information on the topic of antiseptics. This includes the effect and application of antiseptics as well as possible alternatives. In addition, we have compared different antiseptics with each other and selected the best for you.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important
- 3 The Best Antiseptic: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for antiseptics
- 5 Guide: Frequently asked questions about antiseptics answered in detail
The most important
- Antiseptics are used in both medical and private settings to prevent wound infection. In addition, antiseptics can also be used to disinfect surfaces.
- A distinction is made between liquid antiseptics and antiseptic ointments and gels. Before buying an antiseptic, there are criteria you should consider when making your choice.
- Even if antiseptic is convincing with its effective action, there are many alternatives that you can definitely consider and that can be at least as effective.
The Best Antiseptic: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for antiseptics
Antiseptic is not just antiseptic. There are some criteria that are important in choosing the right product. These aspects include:
Before buying an antiseptic, you should compare the different offerings based on these features.
The composition of the ingredients of antiseptics depends on the manufacturer on the one hand and on the intended use on the other. The proportions of the different substances can also vary greatly.
Common ingredients of an antiseptic are purified water and alcohols such as ethanol, hexanol and propanol. But also other substances such as polyhexanide, sodium chloride, povidone-iodine, chlorhexidine and sodium hydroxide.
With antiseptics, a distinction is made above all between products with and without alcohol. Alcohol has a very strong antiseptic effect, but can be too aggressive for some areas of application.
Another important point when choosing an antiseptic is the compatibility of the product on the skin. Skin tolerance depends, among other things, on the ingredients of the antiseptic.
The best-known quality seals come from Dermatest, ECARF, DAAB and the Deutsche Haut- und Allergiehilfe e.V. (German Skin and Allergy Aid).
You can recognise an intolerance of the product on your skin by looking at customer reviews. The most common complaints are a burning sensation on the skin, pain when the antiseptic comes into contact with wounds and allergic reactions.
You should also look for whether the product has been dermatologically tested. Such a label primarily shows that the antiseptic has been subjected to various tests. However, you should also always look at the ingredients of the product.
The smell of the antiseptic is also influenced by the composition of the different ingredients. The perception of odours is very subjective and individual.
Generally, an antiseptic can either smell relatively neutral and mild or very penetrating. According to product reviews, customers have reported a chemical scent. Antiseptics with a high alcohol content have also often been reported to have a strong odour.
How an antiseptic smells has nothing to do with the quality or efficacy of the product. However, a neutral or pleasant smell can be an important purchase criterion.
At first glance, the packaging has nothing to do with the product itself, but it can have a strong influence on the purchase decision.
On the one hand, there are handy and practical packs that are ideal for travelling and, on the other hand, very large packs that are called value packs. With these, you can usually save some money and buy a large quantity of the product at once.
The packaging of antiseptics should always be robust and airtight so that the antiseptic cannot accidentally leak. Ideally, it should also have a child-proof lock. Alternatively, you can store the antiseptic in a place that is inaccessible to children.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about antiseptics answered in detail
In the following sections, we have summarised all the important information on the topic of antiseptics in order to answer all your potential questions and to give you an understanding of the current state of science.
What is antiseptic and how does it work?
Sepsis is caused by germs and damages the body's own organs and tissue in a life-threatening way.
Antiseptics have the task of killing, removing or rendering inactive various bacteria, viruses and fungi (1).
However, antiseptics are also used in everyday use for wound cleansing and disinfection. The substance is said to have the following effects:
- Bactericidal, bacteriostatic
- Fungicide, fungistatic
- Virucidal, virustatic
Antiseptics can be used for both internal and external application and in most cases possess all of the above properties.
One property of the antiseptic is its bactericidal effect. The antiseptic can damage bacteria to such an extent that they are killed by at least 99 % and this within the first 4 hours after application (2, 3).
In addition, antiseptics can also have a bacteriostatic effect, which means that the bacteria are inhibited in their growth but not killed. Highly concentrated antiseptics with bacteriostatic properties can often also have bactericidal effects, while very low levels of bactericidal antiseptics can also have bacteriostatic effects (2).
Antiseptics can also act as fungicides, which kill various types of fungi. Fungicide literally means killing fungi and the process is called fungicidal (4).
As with bacteria, fungi can also be inhibited from growing and multiplying. An antiseptic with such capabilities, has a so-called fungistatic effect (5).
Virucidal antiseptics can show a virus-killing effect by completely enveloping the viruses and preventing their infectivity. Antiseptics with virucidal capabilities are not used for internal application, but mostly as disinfectants (6).
An antiseptic with virucidal capabilities, also called a virostatic agent, can inhibit the multiplication of viruses without killing them. It is mainly used in viral infections where the immune system is unable to fight the virus on its own. Substances used medicinally against viruses have exclusively virustatic properties (7).
Antiseptics can also kill the spores, i.e. the reproductive and survival forms of fungi, bacteria and protozoa, thus rendering them sterile. This property is called sporicidal. Sporicides can potentially stop germination by damaging the inner spore membrane (8).
What side effects can antiseptics have?
This effect can lead to a significant reduction in cell proliferation, i.e. the growth and multiplication of cells. This could also lead to possible tissue damage. However, this effect has only been investigated by a few studies (10).
Other possible side effects that may occur with the use of antiseptic are:
- Skin redness
- Allergic reactions
Antiseptics usually do not have serious side effects and are even considered safe for use on wounds (11) and in the mouth (12).
What types of antiseptic are there?
|Liquid||Liquid antiseptics can be used as a solution or spray. The biggest advantage of this type is that the agent takes effect quickly. Antiseptics in liquid form can also be individually dosed and mixed in different concentrations.|
|Ointment||Ointment antiseptics are characterised by a high fat content and are therefore absorbed more slowly. They are very suitable for dry wounds and should rather not be used for weeping injuries, as the wound secretion may be accumulated due to the fat content. In this case, it is better to use liquid antiseptics.|
|Gel||Antiseptics that are run as gels have a cooling effect. They have a high water content and are fat-free. Because of these properties, antiseptic gels are ideal for burns, insect bites and skin irritations resulting from allergic reactions.|
Antiseptics in ointment and gel form have a limited shelf life, unlike the liquid alternative. It is important to bear this in mind when using antiseptics.
Which dosage form of antiseptic is right for you depends on the intended use of the product.
How should antiseptic be dosed?
- Wound: For both open and closed wounds, such as abrasions, cuts and lacerations, the affected areas should be treated with antiseptic immediately after the injury. You can either spray the wounds, rub them with gel or ointment or dab them with a solution. In most cases, a single application of antiseptic is enough. It can also be used until the wound disappears, but not for more than six days (13).
- Skin: In order to disinfect the skin, antiseptics must act for different lengths of time according to the DGHM disinfectant list. The exposure time depends on the skin area. Antiseptics should act for about 15 seconds in areas with only a few sebaceous glands and for one minute in areas with many sebaceous glands. On joints and body cavities, the exposure time can range from one to ten minutes (14).
- Nose: In the case of infections in the nasal cavity, antiseptics can eliminate the germs after only a few days if the product is applied two to three times a day. Even in difficult Staphylococcus aureus infections, significant improvements and almost complete cures were achieved within a six-month treatment with antiseptics (15, 16).
- Vaginal area: Antiseptics can show initial improvements and exert their antiseptic effect as early as 30 minutes after application in the vaginal area (17). After about seven days, it is highly likely that most germs have been killed by the antiseptic and the treatment of the bacterial vaginal infection has already been successfully completed (18).
- You should always clean wounds directly with antiseptic and protect them with a bandage or plaster to prevent infection. (Image source: Grizovskaya / 123rf)
If you are unsure about how to use antiseptic, you should seek advice from a doctor or pharmacist.
What are the alternatives to antiseptic?
|Vinegar||Vinegar is effective against mould, viruses and bacteria. The vinegar essence should contain at least 25% acetic acid. The mixture is suitable for household use as well as for cleaning wounds. You can clean surfaces with pure vinegar essence. For your laundry, mix the vinegar with water in a 1:4 ratio and let it soak for about 30 minutes. You can clean a wound with white vinegar to prevent infection.|
|Oxygen bleach||This alternative is not suitable for wounds, but is suitable for laundry and surfaces. For cleaning textiles, add one to two tablespoons of oxygen bleach to the detergent and wash at 60°C or higher. For cleaning surfaces, you can also mix oxygen bleach with water in a ratio of 1:4.|
|Salt||Salt is very good for disinfecting wounds and removing germs. To do this, you must first boil water and then pour in the salt. For 150 millilitres of water, you should use about one tablespoon of salt. Now you can either pour the lukewarm salt water directly over the wound or dab the wound with a cotton pad. Repeat this procedure several times a day until the wound is closed.|
|Onions||Due to the substance quercetin contained in onions, they are excellent for disinfecting wounds. Thanks to the sulphur compound, onions also have a pain-relieving effect. All you have to do is chop the onions and place them on the wound.|
|Garlic||Garlic is also ideal for cleaning wounds because of the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect of allicin. You can crush four to five cloves of garlic and mix them with a little honey. Then apply this mixture to the wound and wash it off after ten minutes.|
|Your own saliva||If you are out and about and have nothing else to hand, you can also apply your own saliva to the wound. Your own saliva can have an antibacterial effect and disinfect minor injuries, such as a cut on your finger. However, this only works with your own saliva, as foreign saliva also contains foreign bacteria.|
These alternatives are already available in most households and are also easy to obtain. You should make sure to choose the right option for the right purpose. This is the only way to ensure that the desired effect occurs.
Image source: Galitckaia / 123rf.com
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