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Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap (smithsonianmag.com)
155 points by mglauco on Jan 4, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 117 comments



I don't know anything about the other points, but point #2 is conflating antibacterial and antibiotic. Soaps that contain antibiotics definitely contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and thus should not be used. But soap that is merely antibacterial without using antibiotics will not cause bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant.


I remember seeing a comment on reddit about this a few years back. It went something like:

"If you put a poison in the air in hospital nurseries that kills 50% of babies, after enough centuries you'll have a human population that's resistant to the poison. But if you go in there with a flamethrower you'll just have a lot of dead babies because, well, it's a flamethrower."

Alcohol-based solutions that are anti-bacterial dissolve the lipid membrane around the bacteria. They can't really develop a "resistance" to this.


Alcohol-based solutions that are anti-bacterial dissolve the lipid membrane around the bacteria.

Yes, but that's not what triclosan does. It inhibits bacterial metabolism by binding to certain enzymes, which bacteria can evolve resistance to (by evolving different enzymes or other changes to metabolic pathways).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triclosan


You're probably right. My comment wasn't actually directed towards Triclosan, but since Triclosan is the subject of the article here, it makes my comment kind of out of place.


I read a good one too, I think it was here on HN:

"If you drop a truck from 50 feet on a group of people, and two managed to survive, it doesn't mean they became more resistant to a truck falling on their heads."


I reckon if you'd repeat that experiment a gazillion times, which is what evolution is about, that you would end up with some pretty good truck dodgers.


Not sure if these corrections are needed, maybe it was just sloppy wording, but here they are nonetheless:

Depends on why they survived I guess. If they lived because they happened to have particularly thick skulls and managed to pass it on to their children, you could indeed argue that overuse of truck dropping can lead to resistance in the human population.

And even in the real case of bacterial resistance it isn't that they (the individual bacteria)actually become more resistant; they were already resistant and now they have the opportunity to pass on their genes to a much larger fraction of the population, changing the gene ratios significantly. By definition that is evolution.


NASA / ESA found a bacteria that lives in 'clean rooms' in space craft and space stations, feeding off the scattered remains of the less resistant bacteria.[0]

the air is stringently filtered, the floors are cleansed with certified cleaning agents, and surfaces are wiped with alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, then heated to temperatures high enough to kill almost any living thing.

Basically bacteria will evolve to survive in virtually whatever hellish environment you want to come up with.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=bacteria-di...


Empirical evidence of this theory: bacteria still haven't developed a resistance to soap, which we have been using to kill them for at least a hundred years now.


That is about the most awful casual analogy I've ever heard. I doubt hurt was intended, but do be aware that many people have lost children and would find this hurtful.


If I had to refrain from saying any joke which someone in the world might find hurtful, I wouldn't have very many jokes to say. Besides, in this case, he was talking about releasing pathogens upon, or lighting up with a flamethrower, half of the babies in a hospital. I can't imagine there are too many people who've had something like that happen to their child.


I'm sorry for whomever you have in mind, but I absolutely reject the mentality that non-bullying humour must be curbed in case someone might have their feelings hurt - especially the kind of hurt where people take offense where none was intended.


People are not taking offense.

People are grieving and gently pointing out that perhaps other analogies might be better. There's no ranting nor pitchforks. Just a polite gentle reminder that the loss of a child is an incredibly traumatic thing.

That's a reasonable point. The analogy isn't so amazing that it is crucial to understanding. It cod easily be tweaked.

I would have used it unmodified, but now i will try to change it to avoid dead children.


You can't explain evolution without making reference to people who get killed before they get to breed, and trying to sugar-coat it too much just inhibits understanding.


I've lost a child (in a hospital, too), and I don't find this hurtful at all. This crazy overreaction since someone, somewhere, somehow, might be offended is just silly.


s/children/tulips/ would be the same argument


As someone who has lost tulips, I find that offensive.


But soap that is merely antibacterial without using antibiotics will not cause bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant.

Yes it will. "Antibiotic" is just a name for a particular kind of antibacterial compound that's put in a pill and given to sick people so it can work inside their bloodstream. The general point about bacteria evolving resistance applies to any antibacterial chemical, not just the ones in pills.

[Edit: It's possible that by "soap that is merely antibacterial without using antibiotics" you mean just ordinary soap, with no chemicals added; but that's not what the article is talking about, it's specifically talking about triclosan, an antibacterial chemical.]


I think his intended example was soap containing an alcohol, which is antibacterial, but bacteria cannot develop resistance to alcohol.


True, but as I pointed out, the Smithsonian article is specifically talking about triclosan.


Alcohol resistance can be developed in many bacteria genuses (genii?). I don't think I know of any species that can handle high concentrations though, though I would bet endospores would be able to survive.


Why not?


I never used antibacterial hand soap precisely because I assumed it would somehow contribute to bacterial resistance, and because humanity survived just fine with regular hand soap in the bathroom for centuries. Having said that I've recently been given a bottle of it. Maybe I'm overthinking things, but is there any way to dispose of this stuff in a responsible way?


> humanity survived just fine with regular hand soap in the bathroom for centuries.

What? No! No, we didn't do well at all! Child mortality in the US was 20% just a hundred years ago. What killed everyone? Infectious disease. Yeah, the entire human population didn't die out. Obviously your great grandparents both survived long enough to reproduce. Go check how many of their aunts, uncles, siblings, and children didn't.

The past sucked. Wealth and technology has made it much, much better. There are some drawbacks, but let's not pretend we were doing just fine without.


That's true in a general sense, but has technologically improved household soap in particular contributed measurably to the reduction in mortality rates? There are large contributions from antibiotics, vaccines, the general improvement in living quarters, improved workplace-safety regulations... I could even believe things like more frequent laundering play a role. But I'd be surprised if changes in the composition of household soap have improved health.


Clean water,public sanitation (my Dad used an outhouse until he reached his mid-twenties), Doctors washing their hands before operations/births, vaccines, all these were much more helpful in the past 100 years in reducing child mortality and adult mortality rates due to infectious diseases than anti-bacterial soap has in it's (what, 20 years?) period of commercial success.


> The past sucked. Wealth and technology has made it much, much better.

Yes, but "antibacterial hand soap in home bathrooms" isn't one of the ways that technology has made the world better than the past, except, perhaps, for people selling antibacterial hand soap.

Technology has made many positive changes to the world, but that doesn't mean that every use of technology is positive.


It won't contribute to resistance. There is a possibility it could become resistant to the chemical itself at best, but it's not like it would become resistant to antibiotics or anything from that. If anything the resistance would make it weaker, since adaptions that make organisms resistant usually make them reproduce slower and less fit.

Only a small percent of bacteria would be exposed to the soap so it wouldn't have a huge selection pressure. Chemicals used to kill bacteria outside the body are generally much harsher and harder to build resistance to than antibiotics which have to avoid killing human cells. So I don't think resistance is very likely.

I don't know if there is an advantage of antibacterial soap, but humanity hasn't "survived just fine" with regular hand soap. Washing hands to prevent infection wasn't even common until the past century or so.



I think his point (which is correct) is it doesn't matter if bacteria develop resistance to triclosan. Triclosan is not used to control bacteria in the medical setting and there is no cross-resistance to antibiotics.


> Triclosan is not used to control bacteria in the medical setting

Well, it actually is. The debate about whether using Triclosan-containing soap while caring for patients is appropriate is occurring in the medical field. I saw at least one paper out there discussing it in that context (sorry, no url) but I assumed the soap they're using has a higher concentration of triclosan than what you'd pickup in the grocery store. In retrospect I'm not certain that's true.


When my mother had a bone marrow transplant, the hospital used triclosan to disinfect anyone entering her room. A quick Google search shows this to still be a common approach.


If all antibacterials were harsh chemicals like hydrogen peroxide that might be true. But check out multidrug efflux pumps, and things like triclosan.


I don't disagree with your conclusion, but do want to point out that the "humanity has survived just fine without this" argument could be used to argue against anything that might improve survival rates. Back when people didn't wash their hands, it could be used to argue against washing hands.


True, but we have to look at the risk. Is cleaning your hands thoroughly with sopa after going to the bathroom makes you healthier or cleaning your desk often with chemical makes you healthier?

If a desk is infected with some deadly virus or bacteria, then cleaning the desk with chemical is apparently the right thing to do.

But if not, because that odd is low than compare to not washing your hand after taking a poop, then sure cleaning your desk with chemical is not a top priority. I don't clean my desk with chemical. I apply water and I wipe it, unless the stain can only be removed with chemical. Because I know that my desk will just be as dangerous as the rest if I continue to let it expose to the open air. But what is immediate threat to me? Sleeping late, exposing myself in a crowd coughing, not washing my hands after restroom, no shower for a week, and eating junk food every day makes me weaker.


I've had a hard time finding liquid hand-soap without triclosan in it.


I just reuse a foam soap pump bottle and fill with about 3 or 4 parts water to 1 part plain dish washing liquid (non-antibacterial, of course).

I consider foam soap to be one of the great advances of the past few decades.


A friend told me they did this recently, and I argued to her that it was a bad idea. It's going to sit around for however long with all the baddies in it multiplying, and then you're going to smear it all over your hands to "clean" them. This was my feeling mostly because she had made it with just tap water and dish soap, but I imagine even boiling the water first wouldn't stop this happening as it's going to sit around as still water for weeks/months or even longer.

Maybe I was over reacting a bit, I'm admittedly not sure how store-bought foam soap is produced. I just search around quickly and see that the prime ingredient in most foam soaps is (unsurprisingly) water, but they're also pumped full of other stuff.


"Method" hand soap has no triclosan in it.


Costco now only sells triclosan-free bulk soap now.


Just buy cheap dish soap at a dollar store.


Humanity survived just fine ... ? Do you have any idea what mortality rates used to be?


Hey, maybe the GP doesn't use medication, automobiles, electricity, or computers either. Humanity survived just fine without those too. ;)

EDIT: You might find "Bacteria Living on Antibiotics" blog post interesting though: http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=239


If you ever have a dirty cut, it's useful. I'd just put it under the sink or in a closet.


This is my recommendation as well. I don't use it to wash my hands, but I have found that when I get a small cut or scratch, a drop or two of triclosan soap placed full strength on the cut, and left there for a minute or so before rinsing, seems to reduce infection and speed healing. At the rate I'm using it -- a few drops a month -- one bottle will last many years.

If you do just want to give it away, I'm not sure what to suggest. I wouldn't pour it down the drain or put it in the trash, but taking it to a household toxics center seems overly fussy, considering the amount people are using. Maybe just ask your neighbors to find one who already uses it and give it to them.


There are much better alternatives for that, I'd recommend an antiseptic wash (there's a good one put out under the bandaid brand). Besides which you'll need to use an antibacterial cream for the wound regardless.


hydrogen peroxide would be better


Presumably you could throw it in the garbage. Way worse chemicals are thrown in the garbage every day, and waste sites are required to be protected from leeching into the groundwater to the extent possible. Or you could use an incinerator, but then you have to weigh the significant economic and environmental costs against the almost trivial risk of having it in a dump somewhere.


Currently the advice is to throw it to the garbage, until a better plan is found.


You could just use it occasionally, or put it out for guests. After all, if used only occasionally the generations of bacteria would not develop resistance?


That could easily be worse.

Immunity to antibiotic drugs arises faster when people don't take their full course of medications. Intermittent exposure means that bacteria with any resistance can survive, and this resistance can be built on to full immunity. "Always take the full, prescribed course of antibiotics" and all that.


Is it an alcohol handgel? Or a soap with triclosan or similar in it?


It's a triclosan one. I imagine flushing it all at once would be worse than using it.


Just put it in the garbage. As is, bottle closed.

Or save it for special occasions (which is what it was designed for). For example people are sick in the house, or you just cleaned out something really disgusting.


That was first question:

Have there been any studies on the bacterial resistance impact of EtOH gels? Natural selection will find a way to prevent cell membranes from being dissolved. Nature is a great hacker.


There have been extensive studies on the efficacy of EtOH hand gels - for a wide number of pathogens, they are just as, if not less effective than soap and water, especially when you add in mechanical action.

They're an excellent substitute, but not a stop-gap, especially not in the concentrations available through retail in the U.S.


I've never used anti-bacterials, not when it got introduced into dish-washing soap, and not when H1N1 created a ridiculous scare.

This is one of those things where I take the elitist path and my palm hits my forehead at high velocity.

Disease, illness, death, it's all a part of life, and some ridiculous washing ritual which consumes a significant portion of your daily thought process will not keep any of it at bay. I know hypochondriacs and obsessive cleaners who are sick almost year-long, who almost die every time a cold hits their town.

But it's a tough sell, living life on the edge like that. Isaac Asimov has gotten pounded these last days, but this scare is another symptom of what he predicted: Man has taken further steps away from nature. This is another aspect we fear, one the majority does not understand as anything except what kills us. Truth is, in my opinion, sickness is what keeps us alive.


> Disease, illness, death, it's all a part of life, and some ridiculous washing ritual which consumes a significant portion of your daily thought process will not keep any of it at bay.

My understanding is that washing really does help to keep these things away, and washing with soap helps more; it's not a ridiculous idea that a different kind of soap could be even more effective, and antibac soap takes no more effort than any other kind.

And I am totally in favour of making disease, illness and death be as-small-as-possible parts of life, and not parts at all, if possible.


Being overly clean leads to allergies, many people surmise, because low-level dust/pollen/allergens are never properly introduced to develop the immune system. So, there's a difference between drinking dirty water and being OCD around the house. Clearly, we want surgeons to maintain sterile operating theatres. Its not clear we need sterile environments in every walk of life (where the skin is not broken, and the immune system not already compromised...etc).


The parent is just making some typical nerd point from too much scifi or something about how we shouldn't cae much about death or something. It's HN, I guess.


Normal hand washing has saved very many lives. Regular hygiene is a miracle of medicine, and has ties with early "infographics" of Florence Nightingale's cocks-comb diagrams.


There is a not negligible chance you would have died as a child, or even an adult, from any number of diseases that used to be far more widespread. Certainly it's likely at least one person you know would have.

Modern sanitary practices have saved literally millions of people. Not hand washing alone perhaps, but it is a significant factor.

Humans now live in populations of millions of other people that are constantly in close contact with each other, and people travel more and faster than ever before all across the globe. Be thankful we haven't had more plagues.


It would have been pretty silly to use antibacterial agents in response to H1N1.


Yes, and yet that is what brought anti-bacterial into the mainstream here in Norway.


Asimov in fact wrote a story featuring cleaning- and germ-obsessed civilization.


Points 3 and 4 are reasons why I should stop using antibacterial soap. But the others are reasons why all the rest of you should stop using it. There might still be some benefit to me if I use it.

This is why it's important for its removal from soap to be public policy. We only benefit when we all stop using it. If I stop using it, but everyone else continues, I gain nothing (excluding reasons 3 and 4). So I have no individual motivation to stop.

(I hope it's obvious that I intend "I" in some sort of generic sense in the above.)


Soap was fully functional a few thousand years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleppo_soap

Everything since has just been feature creep.

I use a single type of bar soap around the house for washing my hands, showering and shaving. Works just fine, not to mention probably saving me a pretty penny every year. On top of that, the dry skin problems I had with liquid soap are gone.


On top of that, the dry skin problems I had with liquid soap are gone.

I would point out that soap, by its very nature, removes oil from skin (including sebum) "drying" it out. You may have been using an overly harsh (read: effective) liquid soap, but for many people, all soaps will dry out their skin to the point where they could use something like lanolin to rehydrate it.


Things like this always reminds me of the way the Romans poisoned themselves with lead pipes for centuries. What modern equivalents to this do we have? Soap? Cell phones? Sitting? Who knows. There have to be plenty of things in the modern world that we aren't yet fully aware are killing us over time.

Having said that, now that I've Googled the Roman lead pipe fact I learned in High School I have found that to be in question as well, so really I don't know what to trust ever.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is question everything.


It's been suggested that the sweetening of acidic wine using lead vessels was a far greater toxicity risk: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead(II)_acetate#Sweetener


Augustus died in AD 14 at the age of 75, and Vespasian died in AD 79 at the age of 69, and these were just emperors whose longevity I happened to recall.

Neither were considered to have many (any?) symptoms of lead poisoning either, so I am somewhat skeptical of widespread significant health effects from their use of lead pipes.


I don't know the data there either but considering just three people who led rather exceptional lives among millions of others isn't a great way to draw a conclusion


Apparently the calcium deposits in the water did a good enough job coating the lead that it ended up not causing much of an issue (from what I recall on History channel). Also, wouldn't the Romans have developed a resistance to lead poisoning after enough generations?


This presents an interesting marketing issue. What do normal soaps advertise as. "Non-anti-bacterial soap"?

I've found it exceedingly difficult to tell whether commercial soaps are antibacterial or not, because flaunting the opposite of antibacterial makes the soap seem ineffective.


>I've found it exceedingly difficult to tell whether commercial soaps are antibacterial or not, because flaunting the opposite of antibacterial makes the soap seem ineffective.

Soaps and products containing triclosan are considered over-the-counter drugs by the FDA, so any soaps in the US containing triclosan are required to list it as an active ingredient in the "Drug Facts" box on the label.

Source: http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm205999.ht...


> What do normal soaps advertise as. "Non-anti-bacterial soap"?

"Probiotic"!

I'm only half-joking. Maybe "polarizing"? That's essentially what soap is doing: it's a polarizing agent that helps bacteria wash away. It's a word that's sufficiently confusing sounding to pass as a decent marketing term, and it's not wrong!


I've seen it labelled "washes away bacteria".


Natural? Non-disruptive?


> Antibacterial soaps have the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

This is probably true. But do soaps in general have the potential to create soap-resistant bacteria?

http://consumer.healthday.com/general-health-information-16/...

Well-cleaned surfaces are now known to harbor strep bacteria for months. Perhaps this is (to some extent) because bacteria has adapted to stick to materials much better than before we used soap?


How long until my Nest thermostat activates UV-spectrum functionality (in yet to be sold LED bulbs) when I'm away to break down surface bacteria?


Also to break down your furniture surface. UV is used in medical laboratories at the end of the day to disinfect surfaces. If you are germophobic you can create similar setup in your house right now. Not LED based though.


The surface is so thin that it probably wouldn't be worth while.


What does well cleaned really mean? When I worked in a restaurant, sanitization of certain food prep surfaces required that we wipe down the surface, leave the sanitizer in place for 3 minutes, and then dry.

In a daycare, cleaning is spraying and wiping. Keeps stuff clean, but clean doesn't mean sanitized. (Although I donut that is needed)


Isn't the skin whole ecosystem of bacteria? Killing all of them often and efficiently may destroy power balance between different species of bacteria and by accident allow more harmful bacteria to win the power struggle. Something akin to when you take antibiotics that kills of bacteria in your intestines ending up with messing up your internal bacterial ecosystems entirely and giving you a condition that is recently most successfully treated with fecal transplant.

You probably had to bathe in antibacterial soap to do that but still..


Our environment is full of bacteria. Our body is capable of having bacteria inside.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=strange-but...

But when the immune system is not capable of handling them, you become sick.


I already knew about the bacterial resistance issue, but I wasn't aware that triclosan was known to be an endocrine disruptor in animals. That's a significant additional risk factor.


Proper hand washing techniques say to wet your hands before applying soap, but I rarely see people doing that.


The thing that kills me is we are supposed to be encouraging proper hand washing technique, but public rest rooms are mostly set up to specifically discourage proper hand washing technique.

You have to pump about 5-7 times to get any amount of soap, then you get maybe 5 seconds of frigid ice cold water that you can hardly stand keeping your hands under, with no water pressure at all, then it stops. You either have to press a button again or wait for the sensor to detect you again, which of course takes a while. This goes on for some time. It encourages you to half ass or skip the hand washing procedure. Companies I guess think public health is less important than saving on the water bill.


You're not meant to keep your hands under running water when washing, so the automatic cut-off makes sense. Five seconds is rather generous, actually.

1. Wet hands

2. Apply soap [ water stops ]

3. Lather well into crevasses

4. Rinse-off


Sources, cite?

If you are washing grease off your hands then you actually do want to apply the soap/washing up liquid first.

In this way the grease-loving end of the whatever-it-is molecules stick to the grease before the water-loving end gets to adhere to water. You can then remove the grease from your hands using less soap and with less water.

Also you should always silently sing the happy birthday song to yourself whilst washing your hands to make sure enough friction goes on for long enough to get the job done...



Call me a precocious five-year-old, however, why?

I read that doing so minimises the risk of irritation, however, isn't that the same as locally diluting the soap? Is that the only reason?


Some people are expected to wash their hands a lot, many times a day. These people need to a oid irritation because that defeats hand washing.

"When is clean too clean" (or something like that) is the CDC document.

I've also heard that wet hands then soap makes for better coverage. I'd think that either way would work the same if peoe took enough time and effort with washing.

I would really like to know - with science - what the best method is. I suspect that at one point someone had to write a set of instructions and so that's what we've been doing ever since.


Water "activates" the soap.

I'm no biology or chemistry expert so I might not have this completely right, but here's how I understand it.

Soaps are a surfactant, when you add water (dilute? You aren't pouring water on it, come on!) you "activate" the soap and that forms micelles. This is the "lather" reaction. This is good, we want this for cleaning.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/cleansing/products...

>. So when you put soap in water, the ends of the soap molecules that are attracted to it latch on right away and the other ends stick straight up in the air. Any soap molecules trapped underneath will fight their way to the surface and eventually you end up with three layers: a layer of soap molecules, a layer of water and another layer of soap molecules pushing themselves away from the main body of water underneath. These three layers form the wall of a bubble .... The different ends of soap molecules are also what make soap so good at cleaning. As you learned earlier, when you mix soap with water, it lowers the surface tension of the water by separating the water molecules, as the soap molecules push up between them. Meanwhile, the other ends of the soap molecules that are attracted to dirt grab on to it. As multiple soap molecules attach themselves to the same piece of dirt, they eventually break it down into tiny particles, which then can easily be washed away

This is most noticed with bar soap, but I still say you can't form a proper lather with liquid soap without wetting your hands first, and it doesn't cover the entirety of your hands (backs, between the fingers) unless you use a TON and I mean a TON of soap.


The cdc guidelines say wet hands first. The uk nhs guides do too.

Those are aimed at clinicians, who are unlikely to be covered in grease.


As an aside, if you have grease on you, either from cooking or mechanical work, apply vegetable oil first and rub it in to cut or thin the grease, then wash with strong detergent and very hot water.


Wearing nitrile gloves where possible might help since it's hard to be sure the grease, solvent and/or detergents you're using aren't toxic or carcinogenic. Both my grandfather and father had the same benign bladder cancer by being exposed to the same compound. It's also a whole lot faster to clean up, because some substances stain the skin for days and cleaning them requires vigorous dermabrasion. That irritation alone is bound to cause other issues.


How about antibacterial toothpaste? Some have triclosan (Colgate), some do not (Crest). Is this a concern?


Just use regular toothpaste. Use Listerine if you are that concerned about germs in your mouth.


I thought I was using regular toothpaste. I didn't know Colgate had triclosan until I read it in another article about antibacterial soaps and their risks. The box does not say "antibacterial". Unless you know what triclosan is (I didn't), there's no reason to believe you are buying antibacterial toothpaste.

It does say "Antigingivitis" on the box, but that does not necessarily imply an antibacterial toothpaste. Crest also says "Antigingivitis", but they accomplish that with stannous fluoride rather than something like triclosan.


Use a mouth wash if you're concerned about the smell, not because they are effective.

"Over-the-counter mouthwashes are ineffective at killing MRSA biofilms..." http://www.oooojournal.net/article/S2212-4403(12)01766-X/abs...


If it's so bad why are they waiting to 2016 to ban it? Aren't there people who are forced to use this like food workers and hospitals? Not to mention schools, public bathrooms and people who just don't know any better buying it for their home?


Points 1 and 4 contradict themselves. So triclosan is no better than regular soap at killing bacteria. But the point 4 implies its killing too much bacteria and contributing to allergies.


No; point 1 is about effectiveness measured in health outcomes, such as reduced infection rates, not just number of bacteria killed. The article specifies that triclosan soaps do kill more bacteria than regular soaps, but that this doesn't make them more effective at reducing infection rates.


How come antibacterial soap is sold freely while antibiotic drugs are only available with prescription? If they both create resistant bacteria, both should be under similar regulations.


So if regular soap and water is effective against bacteria why can't these companies label all soap antibacterial?


The reason regular soaps works is because it removes surface oil and dirt from your hands, which the bacteria binds to. So the bacteria gets mechanically removed from your hands and goes down the drain. And this is very effective.

Antibacterial and antibiotic soaps do something extra of a chemical nature that acts on the bacteria to kill it.


triclosan is also found in toothpaste which is more readily absorbed compared to skin contact.


Recently, researchers from the University of California at Davis and the University of Colorado found that the chemical impairs muscle function in fish and mice and stated the results they found show “strong evidence that triclosan could have effects on animal and human health at current levels of exposure.” Beyond Pesticides has provided more extensive documentation of the potential human and environmental health effects of triclosan and its cousin triclocarban. Triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and has been shown to affect male and female reproductive hormones and possibly fetal development. It is also shown to alter thyroid function, and other studies have found that due to its extensive use in consumer goods, triclosan and its metabolites contaminate waterways and are present in fish, umbilical cord blood and human milk. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found that triclosan is present in the urine of 75% of the U.S. population, with concentrations that have increased by 50% since 2004. [1]

The study, entitled, “The effects of triclosan on puberty and thyroid hormones in male wistar rats,” was reviewed by the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and approved for publication in Toxicological Sciences. Researchers measured blood concentrations of testosterone and several other types of hormones and weighed a variety of organs that are essential for rat development and puberty, including the pituitary gland, the testes, the prostate gland and the liver of male rat pups fed an oral dose of triclosan for 31 days. The purpose of the experiment was to determine what effects triclosan would have on concentrations of thyroid hormones and the onset of puberty. [2]

This study demonstrates that triclosan exposure does not alter androgen-dependent tissue weights or onset of PPS; however, triclosan exposure significantly impacts thyroid hormone concentrations in the male juvenile rat.[3]

Could someone for the love of all things natural please elucidate on how relevant, in general, are rodent studies and fish studies to the physiology and therefore the prophylaxis of humans?

For every two or so multi-year studies done on humans there seem to be dozens, if not hundreds, done on rats, fish and ferrets. /s/

Anatomically speaking, aren't pigs much better candidates, in that they much more closely resemble humans? There have been organ transplants from pigs, right?

[1] http://www.beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/?p=7913

[2] http://www.beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/?p=1004

[3] http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/107/1/56.abstract


If you get a pig to wash its hands(paws?) on camera, and say "it's for a study" I think they'll give you a igNobel prize.


I've always thought antibacterial soap was a bit ridiculous. Bacteria are everywhere, most are harmless, and they reproduce rapidly. It seems then that killing a bunch with a soap that "kills 99.9 percent of bacteria" only creates churn in the environment-- unless it targets only the harmful bacteria, which I doubt.

To me, bacteria are just another force of nature like wind or chemicals: harmful or harmless depending on context more than anything else. Table salt will kill you if you ingest 300g of it, but small amounts are healthy. Example with bacteria: E. coli, which is beneficial in its right place (the gut) but harmful elsewhere.


You must've made a typo with your salt. 1500 mg is a reasonable daily intake.

Also, with the bacteria it isn't so much where they are as it is that there is usually a lot of variation within each species, with only some of the varieties being virulent.


Major typo on the salt. Meant 300g is enough to kill. (You'd have to seriously try to die by salt.)


I don't use abac soap, but I do wash frequently and thoroughly, and that's been enough to keep me out of the grave.

I do keep alcohol wipes in my car because I don't always have access to a sink when I'm out. And let's face it, some people are worse than pigs when it comes to personal hygiene.


One thing that keeps you out of the grave is your immune system, and guess what, it needs practice. So while we're sharing anecdotes: I tend to wash my hands after eating, not before, I don't mind eating food that fell on the floor either, and I've been known to do stuff like lick a door handle to gross out others when I was younger haha.. and I hardly even get mild stuff like a cold, when I do it never lasts long, and I haven't had a serious sickness in my life ever (apart from skin cancer, which hardly counts). I can see how washing your hands after pooping makes sense, from all I read that is the smart thing to do, but other than that I'm with George Carlin: let's swim in some sewers, our immune systems will thank us for it. I'm not going to literally pay money to turn my immune system into a sitting duck, that's for sure.


Do alcohol wipes work againts the bugs you don't want to get? Like noro virus or e coli or etc etc.


I don't think triclosan would work well against a virus either.




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