The effects of disinfectants & antiseptics on humans

Updated April 17, 2017

Both antiseptics and disinfectants are chemicals used for the purpose of sterilisation: a process concerned with the elimination of micro-organisms. According to the Tutor Vista website, antiseptics are not harmful to living tissues and may therefore be applied on human wounds to kill bacteria. Nevertheless, the website cites disinfectants as posing harm to living tissues, thus causing health problems such as skin irritations in humans.

Swimming Pool Disinfectants

According to the Lenn Tech website, disinfectants used for swimming pool hygiene can affect the health of humans. Chlorine is cited as causing eczema and skin irritations. Moreover, the website argues that the low pH value of swimming pools, caused by their disinfection with chlorine gas, can lead to swimmers suffering from dental abrasion. This occurs when tooth enamel dissolves and the teeth become sensitive and brittle.

Bathroom Cleaner Disinfectants

The Healthy Cleaning Tips website argues that disinfectants are pesticides that can be corrosive and irritating to the skin and respiratory system. Moreover, the website warns that disinfectants are especially dangerous when dispensed from aerosol cans since they can be inhaled through the mouth and nose. Hazardous substances such as ammonia, a skin, eye and lung irritant; cresol, damaging to the spleen, pancreas, lungs and kidneys; and pine oil, an irritant to the eye and mucous membranes, can often be found in disinfectant products.

Cetrimide and Chlorhexidine Antiseptics

The Engender Health website cites cetrimide and chlorhexidine as important antiseptics. Present in a range of widely used antiseptic creams, these chemicals are relatively non-toxic. According to the website, cetrimide and chlorhexidine are safe to use regularly, unless the individual experiences side effects. Nevertheless, the website concedes that on rare occasions, chlorhexidine products have been reported to cause skin irritation.

Boric Acid Antiseptic

Boric acid contains antiseptic properties that can be found in both home remedies and medicinal prescriptions. According to the Buzzle website, boric acid is widely used for skin problems and eye and ear infections. The Vitacost website concedes that boric acid is highly toxic when taken internally and should not be applied to open wounds. Indeed, the website warns that the substance can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, kidney damage and even death if it enters the body.

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About the Author

Carly Spencer has been writing professionally since graduating from Cardiff University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in English Literature in 2006. She has since written for Bristol magazines "Venue" and "Folio," in addition to writing reviews for Spencer is currently undertaking the online Writer's Bureau Course and has recently had articles published in "Love It" and "Now" magazines.