Should we continue to use antibacterial soaps and sanitizing gels? Read the following from the University of Michigan and draw you own conclusions.
October 24, 2005
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Germophobic Americans have antibacterial soaps in their bathrooms and kitchens, they carry hand sanitizing gels and wipes when they're away from home, and their grocery stores have even gotten into the act, offering wipes for the cart handles.
But Allison Aiello, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, is worried we might inadvertently develop superbugs, bacteria resistant to the arsenal of cleansers and soaps.
The concern, she explained, is that the ingredient triclosan, which most consumer antibacterial liquid soaps contain, changes the ecological balance on your hands by killing off some—but not all—of the bacteria there. In addition, laboratory tests have shown that use of antibacterials can lead to cross-resistance with oral antibiotics that are used to treat some infections.
Aiello appeared before the Food and Drug Administration's Non-prescription Drugs Advisory Committee Thursday to discuss the health benefits and risks of antibacterial soaps.
She told the committee that any kind of soap, with or without antibacterial ingredients, can help remove bugs from the hands. Soap helps to loosen dirt, so that water can rinse it down the drain. She feels it is unnecessary to use antibacterial soaps since research shows that those products are not any more effective than plain soap against common infections found in the household setting.