Health & Safety

Information Bulletins · Antibacterial Products



Antibacterial Products

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the use of antibacterial products such as soaps, lotions and products such as cutting boards and pillows that contain antibacterial substances, may be creating an environment which allows harmful bacteria to flourish, and may be leading to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibacterial soaps do not stay on the skin long enough to destroy pathogens. Their use can be considered a waste of money and may also create the false idea that the user is protected from bacterial infection.

Lotions that stay on the skin much longer may actually kill the thin film of natural bacteria whose purpose is to produce toxins that kill invading disease-causing bacteria. Eliminating these natural bacteria (nature's defence system) allows harmful bacteria to enter the body and cause disease.

Researchers at Tufts University in Boston have discovered that the antibacterial chemical triclosan may be contributing to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. Triclosan is a common additive to soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and cleanser. It is also commonly incorporated into cutting boards and children's toys.

How long you wash is more important than what you wash with. Plain soap and water is sufficient to wash away ordinary germs. Alcohol based hand sanitizers without antibacterial additives are unlikely to cause antibiotic resistance but may cause skin to dry out which in turn could create an entry pathway for bacteria.

Removing your jewellery and scrubbing your hands frequently for 10 to 15 seconds, paying attention to scrubbing around the cuticles and under the nails with a small brush, should be sufficient to remove any germs you may pick up.

Remember to use Universal Precautions when handling biological waste to prevent diseases carried in blood, fecal matter or body fluids.