The Trouble With “Medicated” Soaps
In my undergraduate days, there was a lot of skepticism surrounding the use of what are generally called medicated soaps. Many academics were concerned that the widespread application of those soaps played a significant part in creating drug resistance. Others held the view that the soaps did not actually work as advertised.
Since 2013, when the United States Food and Drug administration first proposed a rule about the chemicals, following research that they might affect human hormones or change natural resistance to bacterial, medicated soaps have come under increased scrutiny around the world. Australian infectious disease experts have called on consumers to ditch antibacterial soaps.
In a final ruling in the United States on September 2, 2016, the FDA said that manufacturers of these soaps had failed to prove they were SAFE or MORE EFFECTIVE than normal products.
The director of FDA’s Centre for Evaluation and Research, Dr Janet Woodcock, said that certain antimicrobial soaps may actually not serve any health benefits whatsoever.
Approximately 75% of liquid antibacterial soaps and 30% of bars have a chemical called TRICLOSAN as their active ingredient. The chemical, originally used strictly in hospital settings, have been incorporated in household soaps since the 1990s. The industry is now worth an estimated one billion dollars.
What are wrong with antibacterial soaps?
1. They are not more effective than plain soap and water, according to over 40 years of research.
In other words, there is hardly any evidence that when you use antibacterial soaps in your home, you are protecting yourself and your family members from any illness.
2. Antibacterial soaps have the potential to increase antibacterial resistance in bacteria.
The World Health Organization calls antimicrobial resistance a global health security threat.
3. They can cause disruptions in the body’s regulation of endocrine hormones such as thyroid hormone. These may lead to infertility, obesity and cancer.
4. They may lead to health problems like allergies, as a direct consequence of reduced exposure to bacteria which are essential for proper immune system functioning.
5. A lot of Triclosan goes down the drain after baths.
Hence there are huge implications for the environment.
What can you do?
For regular handwashing, alcohol – containing hand sanitisers are effective.
Normal soaps are still recommended for baths.
While they do not actually kill bacteria and viruses, they are designed to remove dirt, hence washing potentially harmful microorganisms off the skin and finally, down the drain.
Make an informed choice today!