In a surprising decision, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now decided to ban the majority of antibacterial soaps and body washes that are currently on the market. These soap products contain triclosan and/or triclocarban, which are the two most common antibacterial ingredients out there. An additional 17 active ingredients were also in the ban.
According to the FDA, this decision was made because there is a growing concern that the massive amounts of antibacterial products on the market today are creating bacterial resistance over time. Additionally, it was also determined that these products don’t perform better than regular soap and water, yet they create potential dangerous health risks.
This was a huge decision, as almost 40% of the overall soap market today contains at least one of the antibacterial ingredients listed in this ban, according to Dr. Theresa Michele, director of the Division of Nonprescription Druge Products at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. In fact, there are over 2,100 types of antibacterial soaps on the market right now.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 2 million people in the United States get infected each year with antibiotic resistant bacteria. Of these, an average of 23,000 people die from these infections.
Another reason the ban was ruled was that long term use of these active ingredients can affect human health in other ways as well. Triclosan, for example, is known to damage the thyroid, estrogen and testosterone systems.
Manufacturers relied on labeling to sell their products, but in reality they failed to prove that their antibacterial soaps were any more effective at killing germs than normal soap and water.
Interestingly, this ban does not include hand sanitizer gels or wipes, because the active ingredient in those is usually alcohol and the products are not used with water. It also excludes antiseptic cleaning products used in health care settings.
The main thing to remember is that we should all be diligently washing our hands thoroughly with regular soap and water several times a day, and especially after contact with people and animals. This will go a long way in keeping ourselves disease free.