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Antibacterial Soaps | Time to rethink your choice

Do you use an antibacterial soaps to wash your hands or body? Do you feel happier knowing that with this soap there are less germs, on your kids little hands, as they go around the business of being children? Well, given the events of last week in the US, it may be time to rethink your choice. Antibacterial soaps and hand washes were banned, and manufacturers given twelve (12) months to get the products off the shelf.

What happened? Why would soap be banned?

It is not actually soap that was banned. It is actually the use of 19 chemicals commonly found in atibacterial soaps and hand washes. Triclosan and Triclocarban, common ingredients, in antibacterial soaps were among-st the banned substances. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of these substances after manufacturers failed to provide adequate evidence that the use of antibacterial soaps containing them has significant additional benefit to the users.  So, yes the antibacterial soaps do kill more germs, but this does not translate into consumers getting less episodes of sickness.

VERDICT: The risks outweigh the benefits for antibacterial soaps and hand-washes containing these banned substances


·         Triclosan

·         Triclocarban

·         Cloflucarban

·         Fluorosalan

·         Hexachlorophene

·         Hexylresorcinol

·         Methylbenzethonium chloride

·         Phenol (greater than 1.5 percent)

·         Phenol (less than 1.5 percent)

·         Secondary amyltricresols

·         Sodium oxychlorosene

·         Tribromsalan

·         Triple dye

·         Iodophors (Iodine-containing ingredients)

o    Iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylenesorbitanmonolaurate)

o    71

o    Iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol)

o    Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine

o    Poloxamer–iodine complex

o    Povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent

o    o Undecoylium chloride iodine complex


What are the risks  of using soaps containing Triclosan and Triclocarban?

Firstly, these substances are so similar structure to some antibiotics leading to increasing risk of resistance to these antibiotics. Triclosan, for example is similar to the drug Isoniazid which is used as a first-line drug in the treatment of TB in Kenya where 3 persons per 1000 have TB.  This risk of development of super bugs that  would not respond to the antibiotics in the future.

Secondly, the mechanism by which Triclosan and Triclocarban kill bacteria are non-specific. This means that they wipe out both good and bad bacteria, as they have no way of differentiating them.  Wiping out the good bacteria comprises the immune system of the consumers leading to higher risks of allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Thirdly, there is an environmental effect transferring the risks to all. Triclosan is an artificial substance that does not occur in nature and is not biodegradable. It is fat soluble, meaning that it accumulates in fat of animals, especially those that are higher up the food chain, and those with large amounts of fat For example dolphins have a fat layer, referred as blubber , to keep them warm. In some dolphin types this may be as high as 20% of their body weight.  A 2009 study found traces of triclosan in the blood in up to 30% of dolphins tested in South Carolina and 25% Florida.


Do other products contain Triclosan and Triclocarban?

Yes. Some toothpastes and other grooming products do. It is also important to note that the ban extends to soaps and hand-washes use in the community setting. Antibacterial products use in hospital and surgical setting are not affected as here the benefits do outweigh the risks.


Should you stop using antibacterial soaps?

I would recommend looking through the ingredient list on your soap, and if it does contain any of the above chemicals, I would avoid using it.


Handmade Soap: No fillers, just nourishing butters and oils that work to give you the best skin ever.

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Antibacterial soaps