Is Antibacterial Soap As Effective As We Think?

When winter rolls around the corner, we all find ourselves taking extra measures to protect ourselves from the risk of the flu and all the bugs that come with a change in weather. As a dermatologist, I find I often encounter a lot of patients with hand dermatitis - simply because they wash their hands so much. The trigger element? Antibacterial soap.

I know what you must be thinking - don’t we need to use antibacterial soap to stave off all the germs we’re exposed to? According to new research from Seoul University, soaps with the common antibacterial and antifungal ingredient triclosan were no better at killing bacteria than your regular bar of soap. Their tests showed that both soaps killed 20 common, powerful bacteria strains at about the same rate.

In addition, it seems this isn’t the first time we’ve had concerns about triclosan. In 2013, similar apprehension led the FDA to require that manufacturers prove that their antibacterial soaps were safe to use and more effective than traditional soaps. Consequences linked to this ingredient have included breeding resistant bacterial strains and potentially disrupting hormones.

So, the bottom line is this: you don’t need to wash your hands every hour, and when you do - there’s no need for fancy antibacterial soaps. Stick with your traditional soaps and you’ll be just fine!

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