Wikipedia is your friend! we have 3 classes of substances that kill bacteria:
Disinfectants are substances that are applied to non-living objects to destroy microorganisms that are living on the objects.
Most disinfectants are also antiseptics.
Antiseptics (from Greek ἀντί - anti, '"against" + σηπτικός - sēptikos, "putrefactive") are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction.
Some common antiseptics
The following are all examples of substances that should be used only externally (e.g. on skin but not ingested!)
- Quaternary ammonium compounds
- Boric acid
- Brilliant Green
- Chlorhexidine Gluconate
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Manuka Honey
- Octenidine dihydrochloride
- Phenol (carbolic acid) compounds
- 4-hydroxybenzenesulfonate (Dibromol).
- Sodium chloride
- Sodium hypochlorite
- Calcium hypochlorite
- Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3)
An antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.
The term is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic(s).
In order for a substance to be called an antibiotic, in-vivo experimentation must be performed, to determine:
- Safety (drinking hydrogen peroxide is not a good idea)
- Efficacy (drinking alcohol will not make you healthier)
- Minimum effective dosage
The successful outcome of antimicrobial therapy with antibacterial compounds depends on several factors. These include host defense mechanisms, the location of infection, and the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the antibacterial. A bactericidal activity of antibacterials may depend on the bacterial growth phase, and it often requires ongoing metabolic activity and division of bacterial cells. These findings are based on laboratory studies, and in clinical settings have also been shown to eliminate bacterial infection.
Since the activity of antibacterials depends frequently on its concentration, in vitro characterization of antibacterial activity commonly includes the determination of the minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration of an antibacterial. To predict clinical outcome, the antimicrobial activity of an antibacterial is usually combined with its pharmacokinetic profile, and several pharmacological parameters are used as markers of drug efficacy.
Silver is not even known to be an effective antiseptic, let alone an antibiotic. The Cochrane Collaboration, which is the most trusted agent that reviews, collates and meta-analyses medical experiments, has tackled the existing experimental evidence regarding silver, finding no proof that it works:
Wound dressings and creams containing silver are widely used. It is thought that silver may help wounds to heal faster and prevent infection, but we did not know if this was true. This review identified 26 trials (involving 2066 participants) comparing silver-containing dressings or creams against dressings or creams that did not contain silver. Twenty of the trials were on burn wounds, while the other trials were on a mixture of wound types. Most studies were small and of poor quality. After examining them all, the authors concluded that there is not enough evidence to support the use of silver-containing dressings or creams, as generally these treatments did not promote wound healing or prevent wound infections. Some evidence from a number of small, poor-quality studies suggested that one silver-containing compound (silver sulphadiazine) has no effect on infection, and actually slows down healing in patients with partial-thickness burns.
—source (emphasis mine).