If you think about using antibacterial soaps for hand-washing to keep your family safe from those micro bacteria, think again!
In recent years numerous products have appeared on the shelves claiming they were effective in killing 99.99 per cent of all germs.
But a new study has proved that antibacterial soaps may be no more effective than plain soaps at reducing bacterial contamination when hand-washing.
To date, studies have shown that there is no added health benefit for consumers (this does not include professionals in the healthcare setting) using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients compared with using plain soap.
In fact, there currently is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water, says Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at FDA. Moreover, antibacterial soap products contain chemical ingredients, such as triclosan and triclocarban, which may carry unnecessary risks given that their benefits are unproven.
Antibacterial hand soaps containing Triclosan – a chemical flagged as potentially dangerous – are not much better at killing germs than regular soap, researchers have said.
Triclosan has long been one of the most common ingredients in antibacterial soaps, which are used by millions of people and generate billions in sales every year, experts say.
Now a study in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy reports that when it comes to normal hand-washing there is “no significant difference” between plain soap and antibacterial soap in terms of killing bacteria.
Triclosan became effective only after microbes had been steeped in it for nine hours, the authors found. These results suggest that although triclosan-containing soap does have antibacterial activity, the effects are not apparent during the short time required for hand washing. Antibacterial soap was no more effective than plain soap at reducing bacterial contamination when used under ‘real-life’ conditions.
“To my knowledge, there is no evidence that putting antibiotics into soaps is helpful,” said Dr. Finberg, the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine and chair and professor of medicine. “There’s some reason to believe it may actually be harmful. We know when we use antibiotics in patients or in animals, organisms develop resistance. Resistance is a problem, particularly in our hospitals.”
“While the FDA continues to collect additional information on antibacterial hand soaps and body washes, we encourage consumers to make an educated choice about what products they choose to use,” said Sandra Kweder, MD, deputy director of the Office of New Drugs at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a statement. “Washing with plain soap and running water is one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others.”
So what to use?