DEC 01, 2016 03:28 PM PST

Why Germaphobes Should Forgo Antibacterial Soaps

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Every season, the Bath and Body Works giant shills out new scents of their famous antibacterial soaps - guaranteed to "keep hands clean and eliminate up to 99.9% of germs." But while consumers are stockpiling these bottles, health experts say the antibacterial soaps are not doing us good. In fact, these soaps could actually be giving superbugs the edge.

The problem is that antibacterial soaps are, counterintuitively, giving bacteria a means to become drug resistant. A large percentage of soaps contain the active ingredient triclosan, which is a potent antibacterial and antifungal. But while it's been used in hospitals for decades, persistent and overuse of this chemical can allow new subpopulations of bacteria to evolve with higher resistance.

As such, the FDA recently banned the use of this chemical, along with another 17, in soaps and body washes. The FDA reasoned that plain ol' soap and water is just as efficient, and doesn't pose the risk of promoting the rise of superbugs.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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