Antibacterial soaps do more harm than good

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Antibacterial soaps and handwash are frequently used all over the world. Their use as an antibacterial agent provides more mental satisfaction of hygiene than any other bar soaps. However, in reality these antibacterial soaps are of no benefit as their constituents are more harmful than beneficial. These antimicrobial soaps may not actually serve any health benefit. They are no better than plain soaps and water. The chemical compounds majorly used in these antibacterial soaps are triclosan and triclocarbon which have adverse effects on human health. According to the list of banned ingredients provided by U.S Food and Drug administration (FDA) in September 2016, Triclosan and Tricarbon are also enlisted which are mostly used in antibacterial soaps. These compounds effects humans, environment and change the natural resistance to bacteria.  These antiseptics are not only limited to handwash and soaps but are also found in the personal care products such as face wash, cosmetic products, bodywash, body sprays and kitchen cleaners.

Human Health Problems

Antibiotic ResistanceAntimicrobial personal care products have adverse effects on the human health and community.   The main ingrediant triclosan changes the normal microbiota inside the human gut, damage to the developing fetus in pregnant women. The daily use of antibacterial soaps and handwashes in the children have infer their natural immunity, thus, they are more prone to the seasonal allergies, drugs and insect allergans and other immune related diseases. The antibacterial soaps effect the normal microbiota of the gut and make people more prone to other pathogenic bacterial diseases. The human immune system requires to be intact with a lot of bacteria to make itself stronger. The chemical compounds used in antibacterial soaps interfere with the hormone production thus results in the hormonal imbalance which leads to certain complications such as obesity, infertility, thyroid problems and several cancers.

Triclosan is found to be effective against bacteria but most importantly, it is also responsible for antibiotic resistance. It provides such environmental conditions which favours the growth of resistant and mutant bacteria, thus their survival rate increases. Today, the human are facing the complications of medically important antibiotic resistant bacteria such Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Triclosan helps Staph to hold itself in the nose which ultimately binds with the nasal proteins. When these chemicals are used with water and washed down sink’s drain, they become diluted and less effective. As a result, any germ that is not killed develops resistance and share those genes to other germs (bacteria) present in the drains and sewerage water. In this way a great variety of bacteria become resistant.

Environmental Pollution

Antibacterial soaps and handwash contain bactericidal compounds but these chemicals are responsible for environmental pollution. These chemicals are washed out and reach the sewerage water, lakes, freshwater and streams. The ingestion of such water by humans and animals, watering of plants, contact with inanimate objects, and absorption in the soil also become a causative agent of many infections and diseases. The contact of this chemically treated water in streams and fresh water adversely effects the aquatic organisms as well accumulate in aquatic species which are then consumed by humans. Thus, becoming the major cause of Water pollution. In addition to that, Triclosan and triclocarbon retain for a longer period of time in the environment producing toxic compounds in the environment.


According to FDA, triclosan can be found in 93% of all handwash and soaps which are consumed daily. Thus, people should clean their hands by washing with plain soaps and water and make themselves germ free. The use of house made soaps and natural soaps are recommended. According to the recommendations of the Centre for disease control and prevention, if people need to use a hand sanitizer, it should contain 60% alcohol. These antibacterial agents should be used at hospitals and public health care departments but there is no use of these chemicals in kitchen wares and at our bodies all the time.

A review of evidence published in 2014 showed that the people of United States of America have 60-100% of chances to have these chemicals detectable in their urine, breast milk, drinking water as well as sewerage water. That’s why U.S FDA has banned the use of antibacterial handwash and soaps in their country.

Purpose of the article

The main theme of this article is to raise awareness among the public community and to shift the focus of Drug Regulation Authority (DRA) towards this upcoming threat. Following the old saying “Prevention is better than cure”. Moreover, as an under developing country we are facing a lot of major health issues thus to avoid further complications we should take precautionary measures to save our community from this disaster of health hazardous compounds.

NOTE: There is no conflict of interest towards any firm/company and is solely based on researcher’s conclusions and reviews.


Published in: Volume 09 Issue 08

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