Alcohols exhibit rapid broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against vegetative bacteria (including mycobacteria), viruses, and fungi but are not sporicidal. They are, however, known to inhibit sporulation and spore germination, but this effect is reversible. Because of the lack of sporicidal activity, alcohols are not recommended for sterilization but are widely used for both hard-surface disinfection and skin antisepsis. Lower concentrations may also be used as preservatives and to potentiate the activity of other biocides. Many alcohol products include low levels of other biocides (in particular chlorhexidine), which remain on the skin following evaporation of the alcohol, or excipients (including emollients), which decrease the evaporation time of the alcohol and can significantly increase product efficacy. Ethanol in combination with: chlorhexidine gluconate 1% was approved to use in surgical hand antiseptic. It significantly reduces the number of microorganisms on the hands and forearms prior to surgery or patient care. Ethanol is also used as a co-solvent to dissolve many insoluble drugs and to serve as a mild sedative in some medicinal formulations. Ethanol is metabolized by the hepatic enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase. Ethanol affects the brain’s neurons in several ways. It alters their membranes as well as their ion channels, enzymes, and receptors. Alcohol also binds directly to the receptors for acetylcholine, serotonin, GABA, and the NMDA receptors for glutamate. The sedative effects of ethanol are mediated through binding to GABA receptors and glycine receptors (alpha 1 and alpha 2 subunits). It also inhibits NMDA receptor functioning. In its role as an anti-infective, ethanol acts as an osmolyte or dehydrating agent that disrupts the osmotic balance across cell membranes. NCATS
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