What is Difference between Antisepsis and asepsis?

The Difference between Antisepsis and asepsis is that The antisepsis is the procedure performed to reduce or eliminate microorganisms on living beings and asepsis are pursuing procedures destroy microorganisms may be contaminating objects or inanimate surfaces.

Difference between Antisepsis and asepsis

Both asepsis and antisepsis are different approaches applied in places where the presence of pathogenic microorganisms should be avoided, such as clinical laboratories, hospitals, and the food industry, as they can cause infections and endanger the health of human beings.

Antisepsis Asepsis
Definition Removal or destruction of microorganisms on living beings. Destruction of microorganisms on surfaces or inanimate objects.
Utility Prevent wound infections from microorganisms in the body or the environment. Eliminate contamination by pathogenic microorganisms.
Agents used Antiseptics, detergents, and soaps Disinfectants, sterilization
Examples Washing of the mouth with antiseptic agents when a dental procedure is performed. The use of sterilized material in a dental procedure.


What is antisepsis?

Antisepsis is the removal and/or decrease of microorganisms in the skin or mucous membranes of living beings. Microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, normally inhabit the skin and mucous surfaces (such as inside the mouth). When a surgical procedure is performed, for example, the extraction of a tooth, or we have a wound, these microorganisms can cause infections.

The term “antisepsis” derives from the Greek sepsis which means “rot” and the anti prefix meaning “against.” Antisepsis would come to mean something “against rot.”

For example, in a surgical intervention, doctors, and nurse (s):

  1. they wash their arms with antiseptic agents,
  2. They wear gloves and other clothing to avoid contaminating the patient with their microbiota (or bacterial flora).
  3. The patient, in turn, is treated with antiseptic agents in the incision or cut area, to prevent his own microbiota from entering the body and causing an infection.

When we cut ourselves, we are doing antisepsis when we wash the wound and put alcohol or povidone, all this with the intention that the wound does not become infected.

Antiseptics and their mechanism of action

Antisepsis is applied in situations where microorganisms can normally be found. Chemical substances called antiseptics are used to eliminate or decrease the proliferation of microorganisms. Among the most common antiseptics we have:

  • Alcohol: they act by denaturing proteins and is active against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, some fungi, and viruses.
  • Chlorhexidine: acts by breaking the cell wall of microorganisms. It is effective with Gram-positive bacteria and some fungi.
  • Iodine and iodine compounds (providing, betadine): act by breaking down the cell wall and stimulating the oxidation of the compounds.

Some factors should be considered for the choice of the appropriate antiseptic:

  • The properties of the agent: its spectrum and speed of action and persistence.
  • Your safety: that it is not a corrosive agent to the skin.
  • Acceptance: the presence of emollients, perfumes, and degree of absorption.

What is asepsis?

Asepsis is defined as the absence of infectious organisms. It is also the process or procedure performed under conditions in which contamination by microorganisms is minimized.

The word “asepsis” comes from the Greek prefix of negation a (no) and the word sepsis or sepsis meaning “rot.” The etymological definition would be the absence of rot.

For asepsis, a set of hygiene methods and procedures is carried out in a given environment, in order to avoid contamination of it by infectious and pathological agents.

Aseptic techniques

Aseptic techniques are intended to eliminate microorganisms and thus prevent contamination. Among some of the aseptic measures, the following can be mentioned: sterilization of objects, cleaning of all areas, application of isolation techniques, use of clothing and appropriate utensils.


It is the process of organic waste removal. It is carried out using detergents and washing with water.


It is the process of eliminating microorganisms on objects using chemical agents known as disinfectants.

Disinfectants are classified according to their activity in:

  • High activity disinfectants: destroy all microbes and spores, except when they are in large quantities.
  • Intermediate disinfectants: they are active against microbes but not against bacterial spores.
  • Low disinfectants: they are active only against some viruses and bacteria.

Some viruses and prions are not affected by disinfectants.


Sterilization is the process of eliminating all microbes, including bacteria, spores, viruses, and fungi. Several sterilization processes are used:

  1. Water vapor: This method allows the eradication of viruses, bacteria such as tuberculosis bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis and heat-resistant spores. A device called an autoclave is used, where high temperature, pressure and a prolonged time are combined: 134 ° C at a pressure of 2 kPa for 3 minutes or 121 ° C at a pressure of 1 kPa for 15 min.
  2. Hot air sterilization: this is an inefficient method. To kill all microorganisms 160 ° C is applied for 2 hours. It is applied in non-aqueous liquids and non-stainless steel instruments where it is necessary to prevent corrosion of sharp edges (for example, ophthalmic instruments).
  3. Sterilization by ethylene oxide: This method is widely used in the industry in heat-sensitive items, such as endoscopes and electrical equipment. Ethylene oxide is a non-corrosive gas, but it is toxic, carcinogenic and flammable.
  4. Sterilization with low-temperature steam and formaldehyde: this method uses dry saturated steam and formaldehyde at 73 ° C. It has an action against bacteria, spores, and most viruses. The low temperature allows its use in heat-sensitive articles or with plastic parts.
  5. Irradiation sterilization: This is an industrial process used to sterilize batches of single-use products, such as syringes, sutures, and catheters. Gamma rays or accelerated electrons are supplied at a dose of 25KGy.

Historical perspective of antisepsis and asepsis

At the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, mortality was very high when surgical procedures were performed, not for failures in the procedure but for post-operative infections.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ignaz Semmelweis recognized that there was a high mortality rate in hospitalized women, after childbirth, due to puerperal fever. Semmelweis noted that this was happening with women attended by medical students who had been in the morgue before. Then, a strict handwashing regime was implemented, which resulted in a reduction in mortality from 11.4% in 1846 to 1.3% in 1848.

Louis Pasteur discovered that bacteria caused damage to the wine. This inspired the English surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912) to consider the intervention of bacteria in human diseases. In 1865, Lister began applying phenol (a substance used in the treatment of sewage) as an antiseptic in wounds and handwashing in surgical procedures, reducing deaths from infections.

In 1889, American surgeon William Stewart Halstead (1852-1922) noted that one of his nurses was allergic to handwashing antiseptics. He ordered the Goodyear rubber company to manufacture gloves and since then the practice of wearing gloves was standardized to protect the patient as well as surgeons and assistants.

More recently there is the discovery of antibiotics and their prophylactic use and laminar airflow systems with positive pressure in reducing post-surgical infections. Difference between Antisepsis and asepsis

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