Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Does Antibacterial Soap Actually Work!

Does Antibacterial Soap Actually Work!

Door knob, elevator button, TV remote, all common things in our homes that contain trillions of germs. It has been instilled into us to wash our hands throughout the day to minimize bacterial exposure. Unfortunately, soap and water are not always at our disposal, so we got creative. Hand sanitizers and hand wipes have become the most convenient way to minimize our exposure to germs. A new effort to fight bacteria is antibacterial hand soap.  Doesn’t it sound like the answer to our problems? Well the FDA is banning this household item.

An article by Harvard Graduate School of Science addressed the FDA’s stance on antibacterial soap years after it has been on the market. First, let’s take a look at the chemistry of soap, because this will help us better understand the FDA’s incentives to ban this household item. Soap molecules are amphipathic (polar and nonpolar), this is the property that allows soap to loosen bacteria and come off of your hands. Antibacterial soap has all these properties; however, it also has the ability to prevent bacteria from replicating on your skin. So far antibacterial doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well this additional ingredient to soap is called Triclosan, and recent studies have shown that repeated exposure is harmful to humans and our environment.  

Take a look at a study from the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology  It is a recent study done on animal cells to observe the effects of Triclosan on humans.  The result of this experiment indicates that added chemical interferes with hormone signaling and other biological processes. The most alarming concern is that triclosan increases the risk of drug resistant bacteria. Bacteria found on the skin are becoming resistant. Specifically, a protein mutation called Enoyl-Acyl carrier protein reductase (ENRs) that leads to resistance with constant exposure. This could lead to these bacteria being resistant to prescribed medication

The FDA’S objective is to protect public health. The intention is to monitor these chemicals that are being incorporated in our daily lives. Hand washing is essential, but it’s pointless if it is causing us more harm. This link here shows the CDC's statistics that stated that plain soap and water reduce bacteria by 82%. Maybe it is safe to so say we should resort back to our old ways, traditional hand washing. Find our way back to soap and water.

Posted by " Fredjah Desmezeaux" (1)


  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog post. Naturally, humans do have good bacteria on their skin and using things such as hand sanitizers will wipe out all skin microflora. It is also important to bring to light how antibacterial soap is leading to some harmful bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotics inside this type of cleansing method. The bacteria can mutate and remain on our skin, as you talked about in your post.
    Posted by “Lauren Shone”

  2. The topic speaks to my heart and makes me feel bad about my use of sanitizing soaps and hand sanitizers. I use them all the time because I don't think people take the proper care to prevent disease spread in public spaces. In school, I see people all the time wiping their noses (and that's not the worst thing they do) with their hands. Or not wash their hands after the bathroom use. This kind of behavior is responsible for the quick spread of flu or other viruses. One easy, but costly solution is to integrate more door nobs that are used with the elbow. They help to avoid contaminating the hands and thus the nose-mouth area.

  3. Who would have known that something advertised as incredibly beneficial could actually be harmful. It was always drilled into me to wash my hands to prevent getting sick because not everyone held the same hygiene standards and I was always told to use anti bacterial soap. If bacteria become resistant to these soaps and possibly resistant to medications it could cause a huge issue in the health of many individuals. Maybe it is time to switch back to normal soaps.

    -Brianna Luciani

    1. Absolutely ! Thankfully the FDA monitors our exposure to certain products. Unfortunally advertisement can be very miss-leading, so it is important especially as aspiring scientist to stay educated and do our research .

  4. This is a very intriguing post. Just like MSG in Asian foods where excess glutamate is harmful to the brain's NT and has to be limited or omitted from Asian food menus, Triclosan is another common ingredient in hand sanitizer. I think there can be an alternate to this ingredient so that hand sanitizers can still be available especially since it's such a helpful product for young children and families with little children

  5. This was a very interesting post, and it really got me thinking about the increasingly abundant public hand sanitizer stations. I have previously heard that using antibacterial products could affect the immune system since it reduces the variation of bacteria we are exposed to, thus rendering us more susceptible to infection. But I had never considered the bacteria on our skin developing a resistance to our soaps. Prior to reading this post I primarily thought about resistance in terms of antibiotics and pharmaceuticals, this has allowed me to look at the overall problem of resistance from a different perspective.
    -Posted by Kayla Rosiello

  6. I thought your post is very interesting and relatable at the same time. This topic reminds me of a lot of skin and health products in some ways. Since skin care and health products are of a rapidly growing industry, one way to draw customers in is to promote new functions or benefits of their product. However, these "extra" functions of the product can actually contain many more harmful chemicals. Some of the issues it can bring includes skin irritation or allergic reactions, and even cancer or a heritable disease. As this topic is more prevalent, it is always safer to actually read the ingredients list instead of just reading the name of the product like the "antibaterial" hand soap.

    Posted by Emily Wong

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