Antibacterial Soaps Under Scrutiny

B. McPherson
Plain soap and water cleans your hands. Ditch the triclosan.
The widespread use of antibacterial soaps is a recent phenomenon in N. America and much of the industrialized world. We have been subjected to “Wash Your Hands” campaigns for years now. The cosmetic companies have aided our search to be clean, producing many versions of antibacterial soaps. The premise being that we will save ourselves and others from infections by using these products.

The US Food and Drug Administration(FDA) has recently focussed on these products, looking for evidence that these products convey an anti-bacterial advantage. They are cooperating with the US Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) in investigating these personal antibacterial products. They have not found a long term benefit to using these products. Instead they have uncovered some disconcerting unintended consequences of their use.

Lead microbiologist Colleen Rogers, Ph.D. had the following to say:

"New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits," Rogers says. There are indications that certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA.” USF
 The two commonly used antibacterial products used are triclosan and triclocarban.

Triclosan classified as a pesticide by EPA(Ref: MayoClinic)
·         Used in soaps, cosmetics, toothpaste, clothing, cookware, furniture, toys
·         Side effects may include: alters hormone regulation in animals, contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria, may be harmful to immune system

Hand washing remains a gold standard for reducing infections. It may be that the use of soap and clean water is all that is needed. Plus a clean towel to dry your hands. Forget the pesticide.


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