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Uses of Bacteriostats

10/8/2012 1:01:44 PM | by Anonymous


Bacteriostats, also known as bacteriostatic agents, are biological or compounds that have the ability to prevent bacterial growth. Unlike bactericides, these compounds do not kill bacteria but simply just prevent the bacteria from reproducing and growing further. Bacteriostats can be used in antibiotics, disinfectants, antiseptics and preservatives, serving different functions in each of these applications. Several antibiotics use bacteriostats to prevent the growth of bacteria in patients and aid recovery. Tetracyclines are one common example of antibiotics that make use of bacteriostatic agents to prevent the growth of bacteria. Although many would prefer drugs that have the ability to kill bacteria permanently to aid treatment, bacteriostatic drugs can be very useful in several settings, such as the treatment of a bacterial infection. A disadvantage of these substances can be that once they are removed, the bacteria would start to grow once again, unlike bactericides that kill the bacteria permanently. Despite their differences, bacteriostatic agents, when used in high concentrations, can serve as bactericides, having the ability to eliminate bacteria, rather than simply limiting growth. Similarly when bactericides are used in low concentrations, they can serve as bacteriostats, simply limiting growth rather than killing the bacteria.


One common application of bacteriostats is in the manufacture of plastics. Plastics are prone to being contaminated with bacteria. Therefore, they are often treated with bacteriostats which prevents any bacteria from building up on the plastic’s surface, providing a more clean and hygienic surface. Also, bacteriostats can be used in laboratory work, such as sodium azide and thiomersal. Sodium azide generally tends to be toxic whereas thiomersal is a mutagen in mammalian cells.


Antibiotics are drugs that are meant to be consumed by a patient and they are able to interact with the body’s lymphatic system. Once inside the bloodstream of a person, these drugs confront internal harmful bacteria, and in the case of bacteriostats, limit the growth of these harmful microorganisms. They are able to limit the growth of bacteria by manipulating the bacterial protein production, DNA replication or any other factors that affect the bacterial cellular metabolism. When the bacteriostatic agents do this, they are to limit the multiplication process of bacteria, thus limiting the growth of the microorganisms. When the growth of the bacteria is limited, it allows for the immune system to process and remove the bacteria from the body while also recovering from the infection. It is due to this that doctors always insist a patient finish a course of antibiotics. If a person who was taking antibiotics was to suddenly stop taking the drug, the bacteria may not be completely out of the body and therefore may start reproducing itself, preventing the person from recovering from the infection.


Antibiotics that make use of bacteriostatic agents work closely with the immune system of a person in order to be able to remove the microorganisms out of the body. Some common examples of antibiotics that make use of bacteriostats to limit growth can be sulfonamides and spectinomycin. The courses for antibiotics that contain bacteriostats often tend to be longer as compared to other types of antibiotics. The reason is because bacteriostats limit the growth of bacteria, and this is when the body starts working on repairing the immune system. This process requires a longer time as compared to antibiotics that kill bacteria. Doctors would prescribe such drugs depending on the patient’s infection and other factors.


The use of antibiotics is usually limited as constant use would make the bacteria develop a resistance against the drugs, rendering them useless. This is why doctors only prescribe such drugs when necessary. Also the completion of the course is important as, if left halfway, it could cause the bacteria to develop a resistance against that drug.

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