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Table 6. Mechanism And Spectrum Of Activity Of Antiseptic Agents Commonly Used For Preoperative Skin Preparation And Surgical Scrubs

Agent Mechanism of Action Gram-Positive Bacteria Gram-Negative Bacteria Mtb Fungi Virus Rapidity of Action Residual Activity Toxicity Uses
Alcohol Denature proteins E E G G G Most rapid None Drying, volatile SP, SS
Chlorhexidine Disrupt cell membrane E G P F G Intermediate E Ototoxicity, keratitis SP, SS
Iodine/Iodophors Oxidation/substitution by free iodine E G G G G Intermediate Minimal Absorption from skin with
possible toxicity,
skin irritation
PCMX Disrupt cell wall G F* F F F Intermediate G More data needed SS
Triclosan Disrupt cell wall G G G P U Intermediate E More data needed SS

Abbreviations: E, excellent; F, fair; G, good; Mtb, Mycobacterium tuberculosis; P, poor; PCMX, para-chloro-meta-xylenol; SP, skin preparation; SS, surgical scrubs; U, unknown. Data from Larson E.[176]
* Fair, except for Pseudomonas spp.; activity improved by addition of chelating agent such as EDTA.

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