Though antibacterial body washes and soaps are marketed heavily to the public, a new rule has been issued by the U.S. health regulators banning marketing of such products if they happen to contain specific chemicals. This is because these added ingredients haven’t been proven to be safe or even effective for regular long-term use and can be harmful for human health instead.
A total of 19 specific ingredients have been announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Companies are banned from marketing any over-the-counter (OTC) antiseptic soap, body wash, or other similar item if it happens to contain even one of these 19 ingredients. The list includes chemicals such as triclocarban and triclosan.
According to the FDA, the ban is due to the fact that companies haven’t been able to provide sufficient evidence proving these chemicals to be safe and more effective when compared to soap and water with regards to preventing infections and diseases from spreading.
Janet Woodcock, the director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), said that a lot of people may think that using antibacterial products for hygienic purposes is more effective at stopping the spread of germs and thus, disease. However, currently there is no scientific data that supports the claim that such items are better when compared to regular soap and water. If one is to look at present data, some of it will show that using certain antibacterial ingredients do more harm than good.
The 19 chemicals announced by the FDA are present in approximately 40% of all liquid and bar hand soaps. More specifically, Triclosan, is present in almost 93% of liquid products that are marketed as being antimicrobial or antibacterial.
Triclosan entered the market back in 1960s. It was initially meant to be used in hospitals. However, it has since been used in a variety of antimicrobial products. It raises concern because it might actually play a role in giving rise to antibiotic resistance. Washing hands with soap and water helps to detach the bacteria from the skin. It is the antibacterial chemicals that are meant to kill harmful microorganisms. However, the results from lab tests show that bacteria have already become resistant to triclosan.
Various animal studies suggest that triclosan exposure, along with exposure of other similar chemicals, can potentially disturb the body’s hormones. This can give rise to certain allergies. These chemicals have also been linked to cancer. While it is still unclear how and if the results from the animal studies can be similar in humans, nevertheless, the risk of allergies and cancer is something that has to be considered by health regulators.
The FDA said that “There isn’t enough science to show that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. To date, the benefits of using antibacterial hand soap haven’t been proven. The wide use of these products over a long time has raised the question of potential negative effects on your health.”
Currently, washing your hands by using plain soap and running water is one of the best methods for you to prevent becoming ill as well as to stop disease-causing germs from spreading.