• Shruti GOCHHWAL

What Is The Difference Between Antibiotic And Antibacterial

Those who are not in the medical profession often wonder about antibiotic vs antibacterial medications. It is because both kinds of medications work to kill bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens that might have attacked your body. There is no broad differentiation between both these kinds of drugs, and so most people use the terms interchangeably.

On the other hand, some treatments aim to slow the growth of bacteria in your body if it is infected by any. These antiseptic treatments are applied topically for quick healing. They are less potent than antibiotics but are not ineffective. These different categories of medicines can make one confused as to what exactly antiseptic vs antibiotic vs antibacterial signify. Don’t worry. We’ll help you figure it out.

Antibiotic Vs Antibacterial

Antibiotic Vs Antibacterial

Difference medicines, Credits: Pixabay


Antibiotics are those chemical substances that can kill microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and parasites. They are produced in a natural environment by living organisms. When they are produced in synthetic environments, they take the form of medicines or drugs known as antibiotics.

  1. Antibacterials, those that kill bacteria.

  2. Antifungals, those that kill fungi.

  3. Antibiotic is a broad category. They can further be classified based on which microorganisms they kill as:

  4. Antiparasitics, those that kill parasites.

If you happen to wound yourself, you get prescribed an antibiotic ointment. Here there is no difference between antibiotic ointment vs antibacterial ointment. All the antibiotic creams prescribed for healing cuts, scrapes, and other wounds have antibacterial properties. They are aimed to kill bacteria in the wound.

So there is no need to wonder about the difference between antibiotic vs antibacterial cream. Gentamicin, polymyxin B, and Bacitracin are the commonly used antibiotic creams that are antibacterial in nature.

It should be kept in mind that antibiotic is a broad term that includes antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitics. It follows that although every antibiotic can be antibacterial, it’s not the other way around.

Difference between Antiseptic and Antibiotic

Wound antiseptic topical

Woman applying topical ointment to a child’s wound, Credits: Pixabay


S.No. Antibiotic Antiseptic1.    aAntibiotics work to kill or destroy the bacteria completely.Antiseptic slows down the pace of bacterial growth. However, they don’t work to kill it.2.    aAntibiotics can be taken internally. They are usually swallowed with water.Antiseptics are used in the form of topical solutions. They are applied externally on the wound.3.    MMany people show resistance to antibiotics.Resistance to antiseptics is very rare and is typically not observed.4.    cCommon antibiotics used are Vancomycin, Penicillin, and Ceftriaxone.Common antiseptics used are Safetec, Benzethonium chloride, and Povidone- iodine solutions.

Antibiotic Vs Antibacterial Vs Antimicrobial

antibiotic antimicrobial

hand holding different microorganisms, Credits: Pixabay


By now, you must be clear that antibacterial medications are a subset of antibiotics. So antibacterials can be considered as antibiotics. But what about antimicrobials? Antimicrobials refer to all the agents that work against microbial organisms like bacteria, fungi, algae, viruses, and many more.

Antibiotics act against other microorganisms, but these microorganisms do not include antimicrobial substances that are synthetic or those that come from animals or plants. Some common examples of antimicrobial drugs include amoxicillin, cephalexin, and clindamycin.

A good understanding between antibiotics, antiseptics, and antibacterial is essential not only for a doctor but also for you. Sometimes, taking the wrong medication can prevent a wound from healing on time.

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