You may have heard over recent years about the growing concern regarding antibacterial soaps. While hand washing is one of the most effective ways to protect you and your family from getting sick, the soap you use may not have been the best choice.  If you walk up and down the soap aisle at your local store you will find many different ones to choose from.  There are at least 2,000 different products that have been previously labeled with the special “antibacterial” chemical.  The FDA had stated that antibacterial soaps are not any more effective than using plain soap. They even went as far as stating that the makers of the antibacterial soaps had not proven them to be safe.

According to the FDA, “Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than soap and water.”  And as of September 2016 the FDA issued a rule banning the use of triclosan, triclocarban and 17 other chemicals in hand and body washes which are marketed as being more effective than soap.  This ban only applies to consumer products at this time, not to antibacterial soaps used in hospitals and food service setings.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research previously stated that, “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.” One of the most common antibacterial chemicals, triclosan has had recent studies that caused concern regarding its use.  Some of the studies suggest that high doses can affect the way hormones work in the body. Triclosan had been found in other products such as hand sanitizer, toothpastes, deodorants, face wipes, some cosmetics and other products. Because it was found to be in so many sources we could easily have been exposed to high doses. In parts of Europe and Canada triclosan had already been banned.

Thankfully, the use of these particular chemicals has been discontinued in most products.  This a great reminder of the importance for us to know what is really in the products that we are using to prevent over exposing ourselves to chemicals and the long term affects their use can have.

Marketing has definitely promoted the view that we need to disinfect and sanitize our environment to destroy all the germs.  While disinfection and sanitation is important in the healthcare setting, it may not be best for us in our homes.  Not all germs are bad for us and by having a constant exposure to a variety of germs we can build an immunity to them naturally.  By overusing chemicals we could also unknowingly be building up more chemical toxicity in our body and cause our immunity to go down.  All chemicals have the potential to be toxic and it is the amount or dose taken into our body that determines whether or not the chemical will cause negative affects so our best defense is through our knowledge regarding the products that we use and reducing our exposure to them.

May you be well in your endeavors to promote a healthy life by using good hygiene practices and finding safe and healthy products to use in your home.

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