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Concerning medicine, what are the differences between antibiotics and antibacterials?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

An antibacterial is any compound that will kill or at least slow down the growth of strictly bacteria, a domain of prokaryotes.

An antibiotic is often used synonymously, but denotes a compound that kills or slows down the growth of any cellular pathogen, prokaryotic or eukaryotic. So, certain antibiotics can kill bacteria, fungi and parasites but antibiotics have no effect on viruses and prions.

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Just to add to your answer: bacteriostatic agents slow down the growth of bacteria, whereas bactericidal agents kill it. – jello Sep 25 '12 at 3:09
Waksman defined antibiotics as being produced by other living organisms.… – waspinator Oct 23 '14 at 23:04
Can resistance form from anti bacteria from people using soaps etc to clean bathrooms or kitchens. I only ever hear resistance being due to poor use of anti biotics not anti bacteria? – Dave Mar 30 '15 at 9:20

Antibiotics are a broader range of antimicrobial compounds which can act on fungi, bacteria, and other compounds. Although antibacterials come under antibiotics, antibacterials can kill only bacteria.

Penicillin was the first discovered by Alexander Fleming antibiotic and antibacterial.

There are certian classes of compounds which are bacteriostatic, which will not allow bacteria to grow (Ampcillin kills dividing cells) in number.

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Could you clarify the middle sentence ("Penicillin was..."), it's ambiguous and I wasn't sure what to make of it. – jonsca Sep 26 '12 at 3:44
Penicillin was discovered by a Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming in 1928. Later Selman Abraham Waksman discovered another antibiotic named Streptomycin. – VAR121 Sep 26 '12 at 4:07
Yes, thank you, I meant it's confusing whether it was the first discovered by him or the first discovered. I don't believe it was the latter. – jonsca Sep 26 '12 at 4:08

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