Environment

Here’s why you’ll never buy anti-bacterial soap again

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Liquid soap bottle on the bathtub in modern bathroom

Image: Shutterstock/mrkob

Bacteria are typically seen as the root of all health evils. For this reason, anti-bacterial soap seems like the perfect solution. However, research has shown that anti-bacterial soap does more damage than good to the point that the FDA has banned anti-bacterial soap and all anti-bacterial soap products must be pulled from the shelves this year. The main reason for its danger is the fact that anti-bacterial soap has triclosan, which is a chemical that gets rid of bacteria but perhaps a little too diligently.

Triclosan may be too good at its job. While it does get rid of bacteria, it also can create antibiotic resistant bacteria. Some of the bacteria will develop a mutation that makes it resistant to that chemical so it can no longer be destroyed. It will reproduce and pass on this resistant mutation, making it very hard to get rid of. In this way, anti-bacterial soap becomes counterproductive and will not actually clean your skin! If you really want to get bacteria off, try an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Sometimes the simplest solutions work the best.

Not only will triclosan create resistant bacteria, but it can also create problems with thyroid hormones, sperm counts, and increase in estrogen. This is possibly because triclosan interferes with hormones being able to bind, as it is a similar shape. The results for this came from research carried out on rats instead of humans so it is not definite that this is a problem but it is something to be aware of. This is not a confirmed risk but better safe than sorry, am I right? More extensive research is being done on humans to see how triclosan is really affecting our hormones.

A lot of these effects are only occurring after prolonged exposure so you may be suffering from any of these problems but you may consider switching your anti-bacterial soap to prevent it from happening. Since there seems to be more bad effects than good, there really is no reason to keep using anti-bacterial soap for hand washing. A normal soap will be just as effective in keeping your hands clean. It is also worth understanding that some infections are viral so it does not matter what soap is used, the virus will not be destroyed.

The FDA did not create any regulations on its uses in hospitals or hand sanitizers even though some people believe it should no longer be used there. It is not being used properly and therefore is not as effective as it should be. Furthermore, it could actually be dangerous when considering that it creates resistant bacteria. If hospitals continue to use this, it could be doing more harm than good.

Instead of going for an anti-bacterial soap, just stick with normal hand soap. It works just as well and will not change your hormone levels or create mutant bacteria. If you are unsure if a soap is safe to use, just look on the ingredients and check for triclosan! Keep your body safe and healthy.

Marcus Wade loves to surf the Internet, drink coffee and travel. He loves meeting new people and having interesting conversations about art, politics and society.