The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of certain antibacterial chemicals in hand and body wash products. The products of concern contain one or more of 19 ingredients named by the FDA, including triclosan and triclocarban. The FDA said the cleansers are no more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illnesses and reducing the spread of infections, and companies will no longer be able to market them in over-the-counter cleansers.
"Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
Flu season is officially here and the importance of washing your hands to prevent sickness and the spread of germs cannot be overstated. Hand washing is one of the most important means of preventing spread of infection. Recent studies have shown that quickly washing your hands with the available soap before you rush out of the bathroom may not be enough to kill the harmful bacteria on your hands.
When choosing soaps for your home or office, is it necessary to buy an antibacterial soap? Many studies show antibacterial soaps are no more effective than plain soap and water for killing bacteria, with the exception of healthcare settings. So, unless your doctor instructs you to buy a speciﬁc soap, for bacterial infections for example, plain soap is sufﬁcient.
Plain soap is usually less expensive than antibacterial soaps. However, antibacterial soap is recommended in healthcare settings, such as doctor’s ofﬁces, hospitals and nursing homes or around immunocompromised individuals. If the ﬂu or seasonal cold is making the rounds at your ofﬁce or home, an antibacterial soap may be a wise replacement.
Keep soap accessible in the home and ofﬁce, placing it next to every sink, including bathrooms, kitchens, and hallway sinks if available.
"Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others," the FDA said. "If soap and water are not available and a consumer uses hand sanitizer instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that it be an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol."