You’re standing in the store and choosing between two soaps: antibacterial or standard. You decide to go for antibacterial because you want to be sure all the germs sticking to your hands are destroyed once and for all.
A new study proves that antibacterial soap is not at all superior to regular soap, despite clever marketing techniques. In fact, antibacterial soap may have unknown risks associated with its use.
Published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the study found that soap possessing the topical antibiotic triclosan is just as effective as regular hand soap.
Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent used in consumer products, including soaps, detergents and toys.
Korea University researcher Min-Suk Rhee and her peers used 20 strains of bacteria to measure the effectiveness of different kinds of soap. The researchers used one standard formulation and one with 0.3 percent triclosan, which is the maximum percentage allowed by law.
In the test, the soap was used for 20 seconds to mimic a regular hand-washing session. When measuring how much bacteria that was removed by each type of soap, researchers found no difference between the effectiveness of the two variations.
However, after nine hours, the triclosan-containing soap seemed to have killed more germs than the regular soap.
Potential Risks Of Triclosan
Researchers also asked 16 participants to use both soaps before counting how much bacteria had been rinsed off their hands. There was no significant difference in the second test.
A study published in the Journal Of Allergy And Clinical Immunology found that long-term use of triclosan could cause various types of allergies, in addition to hay fever.
“Antibacterial activities of triclosan have been well documented. However, its risk remains controversial since various adverse effects have been reported, including allergen, antibiotic resistance, carcinogenic impurities and bioaccumulation,” Rhee says. “Our study indicates there was no significant difference in antiseptic effects.”
The FDA is currently reviewing triclosan for safety. The chemical has reportedly caused skin rashes and allergic reactions, and also led to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As the soap destroys pathogens on the skin, the body becomes more antibiotic resistant.
Studies show that standard soap is just as effective as antibacterial soap. Messing with triclosan, even if you’re trying to get clean, may be an unnecessary risk.
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