The Latest Research on Antibacterial Soaps and Lotions Will Surprise You
By Ronayne Herbert, RNP
There has been a silent war going on right in our bathrooms and kitchens. For years, we were taught by our mothers and by soap companies that germs are bad and that we must kill them all. So, over time, we have come to rely heavily on antibacterial soaps to fight this war for us. Armed with special “germ-killing” chemicals, we have sought to wipe out the enemy before they get us.
The problem is that we have assumed that these products are helping us fight infection and sickness by killing the common germs that we so frequently encounter when we are out in public. But information from the FDA exposes the lack of scientific research behind these claims and makes us wonder if we have been doing more harm than good. Here’s what they have uncovered:
1. Many common respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses are caused by viruses which are not weakened by these products.
2. Just as overuse of antibiotics can cause resistant bacteria, so may our reliance on antibacterial products.
3. Overuse of antibacterial products may increase the risk for allergies as our immune systems are not developing the ability to recognize and fight bacteria.
4. The main ingredient in most antibacterial products is Triclosan which has been shown to disrupt the production of thyroid hormones.
Because of these concerns, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed that antibacterial soap manufacturers prove that their products are safer and more effective than regular soap. Last year in 2016, products that did not meet these criteria were taken off the market. So, the best advice is to use good old soap and water to wash your hands several times a day.