Is antibacterial soap bad for you? FDA proposes new rule

soap bubbles
The FDA wants manufacturers to prove that antibacterial soaps are more effective at killing bacteria than regular soap.
Credit: Flickr / The Italian Voice

The Food and Drug Administration proposed a new rule on Monday, stipulating that the makers of antibacterial soap must prove that their products are more effective than regular soap in warding off infection and bacteria, reports Reuters.

“Although consumers generally view these products as effective tools to help prevent the spread of germs, there is currently no evidence that they are more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water,” the FDA said in a statement.

According to the agency, antibacterial chemicals like triclosan may even be harmful in that consumers may receive hormonal side effects or allow bacteria to develop into drug-resistant organisms.

Dr. Brian S. Koll, medical director and chief of infection prevention at Beth Israel Medical Center, said there is no benefit to using antibacterial soap over regular soap. “What’s important when you wash your hands with regular soap and water is that you wash them correctly – that will not be any less effective than using an antibacterial soap with triclosan,” he said.

In spite of the possibility of developing drug-resistant organisms and side effects, Koll said there’s no need to panic and throw out your antibacterial soap. “I’m a big believer in data and I would work through the process that the FDA is advocating, where the companies that make these products can do a real study or share data they have regarding effectiveness and harm,” he said.

Koll added that most people are concerned about catching colds and other viruses – antibacterial soaps do not protect against these ailments anyway. Moreover, antibacterial soap must sit on the skin for two minutes in order for it to kill bacteria anyway, a step most people skip.

Koll recommends using regular soap and water if possible, though he also pointed out that most commercial soaps tend to be antibacterial.

The FDA’s new rule does not apply to alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which do not have the same side effects. Koll pointed out that the alcohol kills both bacteria and viruses.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…

Comments

1

  1. Great… It is not wise to use triclosan in your antibiotic soap as it is responsible to trigger bacteria-resistant (especially in case of MRSA). So go for an antibacterial soap that does not contain triclosan. :)