Antibacterial Soaps Really Work? FDA Seeks Proof

Antibacterial Soaps Good or Bad?

While antibacterial soaps and body wash products are generally regarded as effective tools in preventing infections, currently there’s no proof that they are more effective in stopping the spread of germs than washing hands with regular soap and water, says the FDA.

Antibacterial soaps and body washes are widely used in homes, workplaces, schools, and public places. Almost all soaps labelled “antimicrobial” or “antibacterial” have at least 1 of the antibacterial ingredients mentioned in the FDA’s proposed rule. Triclosan and triclocarban are most common active ingredients that antibacterial soaps contain. Soaps labelled “deodorant” may also have these ingredients.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, long-term exposure to some active ingredients found in antibacterial products such as triclocarban (bar soaps) and triclosan (liquid soaps) could pose health hazards, such as hormonal effects or bacterial resistance. Triclosan is an ingredient that alters thyroid hormone levels and reproductive hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, according to The Endocrine Society.

Are Antibacterial Soaps Harmful?

After years of growing concerns about the efficacy of antibacterial chemicals used in everyday items such as soap and toothpaste, the FDA wants soap manufacturers to prove that the substances used were safe or remove them from the products altogether.

Public health experts lauded the proposal. It was their long standing demand that the FDA regulate antimicrobial chemicals which carry the risk of scrambling hormones in kids and facilitating drug-resistant infections. Soap producers contend that antibacterial soaps have long been proven to be both safer and more effective than washing with non-bacterial products.

Studies conducted on animals have found that the chemicals triclocarban used in bar soaps and triclosan used in liquid soaps can interfere with the regular development of the reproductive system & metabolism. The chemicals were used originally by surgeons to rinse their hands before surgeries, and their use mushroomed in last few years as manufacturers used them in a range of products such as mouthwash, fabrics, baby pacifiers and laundry detergent.

Antibacterial Soaps Safety Review:

Accumulated scientific data has prompted the FDA to reassess whether long-term exposure to these chemicals is safe. The agency also stated there wasn’t any proof that antibacterial hand soaps were better at fighting germs than just plain soap and water.

This proposed rule doesn’t require soap manufacturers to remove them from the market immediately. The companies have 6 months to furnish data demonstrating that their products are better than non-antibacterial soaps in reducing infection or preventing human illness. If they fail to do so, soap manufacturers should stop using these chemicals in their products. The products should be reformulated or relabelled to remain on shop shelves.

The rule is not applicable to hand sanitizers.The agency recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol in case soap and water are unavailable.

Being overly hygienic could actually end up eliminating good bacterial exposure and raise your chances of developing allergies & asthma.