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The Truth About Antibacterial Soap


| 12/18/2013 10:47:00 AM


It’s that time of year again. The air is filled with echoing coughs and sniffles. Gut reaction is to reach for hand sanitizer or fervently wash our hands with whatever will kill off those germs. But before reaching for that antibacterial soap, you should learn the facts.

Antibacterial Soap
Photo by Fotolia/dimakp

Currently, there is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are more effective at preventing the spread of infection than regular soap. The FDA has even issued such statements in the past (see “Is Antibacterial Soap Really Necessary?”). Not only are antibacterial soaps likely ineffective, they may cause more harm than help thanks to the common active ingredients triclosan and triclocarban, two potential hormone disrupters (see “Antibacterial Soaps Contain Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals”).

So why do we get trapped into buying these false promises?

Clever marketing. There is hope, though. The FDA proposed a new rule Monday that would help to determine the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps. (This rule would not affect hand sanitizers, wipes or antibacterial products used in health-care settings.) The rule would require manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes to provide evidence that their product is safe for long-term, daily use and more effective than plain soap. This rule could result in required new labeling or reformulation for current OTC products.



It is important to note that the FDA still emphasizes the importance of washing your hands, as it is one of the best ways to prevent illness.



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