Are You Still Using Antibacterial Soaps?

August 23, 2011

Are You Still Using Antibacterial Soaps?

With the kids heading back to school and all those new GERMS coming at you, it’s tempting to reach for the antibacterials!

But there are good reasons to keep antibacterial soaps, detergents, shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, and cleaning products OFF of your shopping list. Even the American Medical Association is against the stuff!  

Kills cells and might alter hormones. The active ingredient in most antibacterial products is triclosan. Not only does triclosan kill bacteria, it also has been shown to kill human cells.

The Food and Drug Administration said: “animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation … Other studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.” That’s why the FDA is taking another look at its safety. It’s “scientific and regulatory review” of triclosan should be done in winter, 2012.

Builds superbugs. The skin is the body’s biggest organ, and can absorb chemicals. Plenty of scientists believe widespread use of antibacterials could lead to a strain of resistant bacteria, meaning antibacterials won’t work when they are actually needed.

“There’s no evidence that they do any good and there’s reason to suspect that they could contribute to a problem” by helping create antibiotic-resistant bacteria, said Myron Genel, chairman of the AMA’s Council on Scientific Affairs and a Yale University pediatrician.

Doesn’t stop sickness. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who used antibacterial soaps and cleansers got sick with coughs, runny noses, sore throats, fevers, vomiting and diarrhea just as much as people who didn’t use the products. Most of these sicknesses are caused by viruses, which antibacterial soaps don’t protect against anyway. 

May interfere with kids’ immunity. More and more, medical experts are behind the theory that children need to be exposed to some bacteria to strengthen their immune systems. That means children may be more prone to allergies and asthma because common bacteria were wiped out by antibacterial soap.

Back to basics! Plain soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill germs

Like True Citrus, soap is a “basic” item with no scary side effects. To get rid of most bacteria, all you need to do is rub your hands in water and plain old bar soap for at least 20 seconds to get rid of most bacteria. Be sure to get the backs of your hands, wrists, between fingers and under your fingernails. For kids, rubbing soapy hands for the same amount of time as singing Happy Birthday twice before rinsing should do the trick.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers also work (get one that’s at least 60 percent alcohol). Like plain soap, sanitizers don’t come with any of the problems of antibacterial products – problems that make it seem pretty silly to pay money to use them.