- 2018-02-06-or stops their growth.Antimicrobial medicines can be grouped according to the microorganisms they act primarily against. For example, are used against and are used against . They can also be classified according to their function. Agents that kill microbes are called , while those that merely inhibit their growth are called 。 The use of antimicrobial medicines to treat infection is known as , while the use of antimicrobial medicines to prevent infection is known as .
The main classes of antimicrobial agents are ("nonselective antimicrobials" such as ), which kill a wide range of microbes on non-living surfaces to prevent the spread of illness, (which are applied to living tissue and help reduce infection during surgery), and (which destroy microorganisms within the body)。 The term "antibiotic" originally described only those formulations derived from living micro organisms but is now also applied to antimicrobials, such as the , or . The term also used to be restricted to antibacterials (and is often used as a synonym for them by medical professionals and in medical literature), but its context has broadened to include all antimicrobials. Antibacterial agents can be further subdivided into agents, which kill bacteria, and , which slow down or stall bacterial growth. In response, further advancements in antimicrobial technologies have resulted in solutions that can go beyond simply inhibiting microbial growth. Instead, certain types of porous media have been developed to kill microbes on contact.