The “antibacterial” label on most bar soaps and liquids is misleading consumers, who believe it will keep them healthier and protect them against germs and bacteria. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people use plain soap and water to wash their hands.
This is because about 75 percent of liquid antibacterial soaps and 30 percent of bars use a chemical called triclosan as an active ingredient.
Along with triclosan, other harmful chemicals found in most of the antibacterial soaps are triclocarban, 2-butoxyethanol, bisphenol A, d-limonene, dyes, parabens, phthalates and chloride.
Many experts believe that regular use of products with these ingredients can be harmful to your health.
In September 2016, the FDA ruled that manufacturers could no longer market antibacterial wash products containing certain active ingredients in the United States because the companies did not demonstrate that the ingredients were safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.
Here are some of the top reasons why you should stop using antibacterial soap.
1. Acts as an Endocrine Disruptor
Several studies have demonstrated that triclosan, one of the main chemicals in antibacterial soap, interferes with the body’s regulation of thyroid hormones.
This is mainly because triclosan chemically resembles the hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. Thus, triclosan binds to its receptor sites, leading to abnormal functionality of the thyroid.
A 2006 study published in Aquatic Toxicology reports that exposure to low levels of triclosan disrupts thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and can alter the rate of thyroid hormone-mediated postembryonic anuran development.
Another 2009 study published in Toxicological Sciences demonstrates that triclosan exposure does not alter androgen-dependent tissue weights, but its exposure can significantly impact thyroid hormone concentrations.
2. Leads to Hormone Imbalances
The harmful chemicals in antibacterial soap can change the hormonal makeup of human and animal cells. In fact, triclosan can affect glands like the prostate regulated by testosterone. This can cause the prostate to grow larger.
In a 2007 study published in Endocrinology, researchers found two key effects of triclocarban. First in human cells in the laboratory, triclocarban increased gene expression that is normally regulated by testosterone. Secondly, when male rats were fed triclocarban, testosterone-dependent organs such as the prostate gland grew abnormally large.
3. Not Effective Against New Bacteria
One of the main reasons for using antibacterial products is to kill germs and bacteria that a person comes in with.
But in doing this, the body does not naturally build resistance to new bacteria. Moreover, as in case of antibiotics, prolonged use of antibacterial soap may even contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This results in the possibility of new bugs threatening your health as your body is unable to fight them off.
A 2006 study published in Microbial Drug Resistance shows that widespread use of triclosan may represent a potential public health risk in regard to development of concomitant resistance to clinically important antimicrobials.
Plus, while antibacterial soaps and cleansers may kill bacteria that isn’t good for your body, they also kill the good bacteria. Good bacteria helps prevent other bacteria from spreading and helps you build a natural resistance to bad bacteria.
4. Makes Skin Dry
Another reason to avoid using antibacterial soap, especially for washing your hands, is dry skin. In fact, people who already have dry skin should stay away from such soaps.
The powerful antibacterial agent in the soap, triclosan, strips the skin of its hydrating oil. This results in dry skin with symptoms including mild itching, redness, irritation and flaking.
Also, the American Skin Association advises against the use of antibacterial soap. Instead, use mild soap containing natural ingredients like aloe vera or coconut oil.
After washing your hands with any soap, do not forget to apply some moisturizer.