Using Antibacterial soap? Think Again

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Minnesota has just banned 2,000 products that contain the chemical Triclosan. Congratulations Minnesota! Unfortunately, the law in Minnesota does not go into effect until 2017. This chemical has been shown to cause hormonal imbalances in animals which means it is probably doing the same to us.

In December 2013 the FDA asked the manufactures to show evidence that these soaps reduce infections. In fact, none of the manufacturers have shown any convincing evidence that antibacterial or antimicrobial soap is more effective in reducing infections than washing with regular soap and water. In addition, Triclosan has been shown to increase bacterial resistance and may indeed lead to more serious infections because it kills the healthy bacteria on our skin.

Yes indeed, Bacteria (a lot of them) are necessary for our health and our skin health. We have good E. Coli in our bowels that help us digest our food. We have good bacteria on our skin called Staph Epidermidis that helps to ward off bad skin infections.

So what is the best way to wash and keep our skin healthy? Every time we wash we want to remove bad bacteria and leave the good bacteria. So we want to wash in a way that leaves our good bacteria intact. If we wash with simple soap and warm or cool water we are doing our skin and our health a favor! Washing properly, as indicated by the CDC [ ], helps to reduce the chance that we will pass along harmful bacteria (from raw meets for example) or viruses such as “Flu”.

When should you wash your hands? A guide from the CDC

  1. Before, during, and after preparing food
  2. Before eating food
  3. Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  4. Before and after treating a cut or wound
  5. After going to the restroom or using the toilet
  6. After cleaning up a child who has used the restroom or changing diapers
  7. After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  8. After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  9. After touching garbage

“Antibacterial Soap” and “Antimicrobial Soap” both have a nice ring! It sounds great that we are killing those bad germs! But it is just a marketing ploy…resist the urge to purchase it!

Action Item 1: “Personally ban” antibacterial soap and tell your friends to so as well! Avoid the lure of antibacterial soap and do not purchase it. If you have it around throw it out. Do not let your children use it and tell them not to use it at school. Inform your school principal to read about it and not have it in our schools.

Action Item 2: Wash with warm or cool soap and water to remove bad bacteria when you have contact with harmful bacteria: raw meat, contact with people with infections, etc.

Action Item 3: In all your purchases resist marketing hype. I will try to keep you informed on what is good for our health based on scientific evidence.

Here are links to PubMed showing the emergence of more drug resistant Staph Aureus (cause of boils, impetigo and skin infections) and evidence of endocrine disruption which may lead to thyroid and reproductive problems:

Link to Minnesota Law banning Triclosan: