Difference between Antisepsis and Asepsis

Antisepsis is the process that occurs to compress microorganisms on living beings and asepsis are the procedures that aim to destroy microorganisms that are contaminated.

Both have different approaches applied in places where the presence of pathogenic microorganisms must be avoided, such as clinical laboratories, hospitals and the food industry, since they cause infections and put people’s health at risk.


It is the decrease of microorganisms on the skin of people. Microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi normally live on the skin and mucosal surfaces (such as the inside of the mouth). When a surgical process is carried out, for example the extraction of a tooth, or there is a wound, these microorganisms usually generate infections.

Antisepsis comes from the Greek (sipsis), which means (putrefaction), and the prefix anti which means (against). Antisepsis would mean (against putrefaction).

For example, in a surgical intervention, the doctors and nurse:

  1. They sanitize their arms with antiseptic agents,
  2. They use gloves and other clothing to avoid contamination with their microbiota.
  3. The patient is treated with antiseptic agents in the vulnerable area to prevent their own microbiota from entering the body and generating an infection.

Antiseptics and their mechanism of action

It is applied in cases where microorganisms can normally be found. Chemical substances called antiseptics are used to eliminate the proliferation of microorganisms. Among the most common antiseptics we find:

  • Alcohol: they act by altering proteins and are active against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, some fungi and viruses.
  • Chlorhexidine: breaks the cell wall of the microorganism. It is effective against Gram-positive bacteria and some fungi.
  • Iodine and iodinated compounds (povidine, betadine): breaks the cell wall and stimulates the oxidation of compounds.

Several factors must be taken into account to select the correct 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.
  • Its acceptance: the presence of emollients, perfumes and degree of absorption.


It is the absence of infectious organisms. And the process that is carried out under conditions that is contaminated by small microorganisms.

The word asepsis comes from the Greek prefix a (no) and the word sipsis or sepsis means (putrefaction). The etymological definition is the absence of putrefaction.

For this process, different hygiene methods and procedures are needed in a special environment, in order to avoid contamination by infectious and pathological agents.

aseptic techniques

Its purpose is to eliminate microorganisms and thus avoid contamination. Among some of the asepsis measures, the following are mentioned: sterilization of objects, cleaning of all areas, application of isolation techniques, use of correct clothing and utensils.

cleaning and washing

It is the process of removing organic waste, it is done using detergents and washing with water.


It is the procedure to eliminate microorganisms on objects using chemical agents known as disinfectants.

Disinfectants are classified as follows:

  • High Activity Disinfectants – Devastate all microbes and spores, except when in large numbers.
  • Intermediate disinfectants: they are active against microbes but not against bacterial spores.
  • Low disinfectants: they are active only against certain viruses and bacteria.


It is the procedure to eliminate all microbes, including bacteria, spores, viruses and fungi, different sterilization processes are used:

  1. Water vapor: this method grants the eradication of viruses, bacteria such as the tuberculosis bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis and heat resistant spores. An equipment called an autoclave is used, where high temperature, pressure and a long time are mixed: 134ºC at a pressure of 2 kPa for 3 minutes or 121ºC at a pressure of 1 kPa for 15 min.
  2. Hot air sterilization: this is an ineffective method, to eliminate all microorganisms it is added at 160ºC 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. Ethylene oxide sterilization: It is used in industry on 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 technique uses dry saturated steam and formaldehyde at 73ºC. It has action against bacteria, spores and most viruses. The low temperature grants its use in articles vulnerable to heat or with plastic parts.
  5. Irradiation sterilization: This is an industrial step used to sterilize batches of single-use products, such as syringes, sutures, and catheters. Gamma rays or accelerated electrons are provided at a dose of 25KGy.


Antisepsis and Asepsis


Antisepsis Asepsis
Definition Destruction of microorganisms on living beings. Destruction of microorganisms on surfaces and inanimate objects.
Utility Avoid wound infections by microorganisms from the body or the environment. Destroy contamination by pathogenic microorganisms.
Agents used Antiseptics, detergents and soaps Disinfectants and sterilization.
examples Washing the mouth with antiseptic agents when a dental process occurs. The use of sterilized material in a dental process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Back to top button