May 13, 2008

I've Always Been Suspicious of Antibacterial Soaps

Not that it's to my credit: I think it comes from having lived with OCD Girl, whose compulsiveness was often in slightly different areas from my own—and whose passive-aggressive abilities were far superior.

But it's always nice to be proven right.

The fact is, soap is very effective in getting bacteria off of one's skin. It just <>is. Even water is very, very effective if one uses enough of it.

I've always suspected that a lot of these "antibacterial soap" users were the sort of people who go on antibiotics at the drop of a hat. I've even considered the possibility that some of 'em don't even know the difference between viruses and bacteria.

Which, by the way, is one of two data any given individual needs in order to successfully negotiate the modern world. (The other being the difference between its and it's.)

h/t: Glenn.

Posted by Attila Girl at May 13, 2008 12:49 PM | TrackBack

Not so fast, Science Girl! That article proves little, mostly the bias of the author.

While proper hand washing techniques may be sufficient, the fact remains that few people employ such methods. Even health professionals, and according to studies, especially health professionals. One should run water over the hands, rub, and rinse before lathering and using mechanical action--rubbing--to dislodge bacteria protected by hand oils and waxes, for fifteen to twenty seconds. That followed by a second lathering and long rinse and avoiding recontamination while shutting off the water, and generally getting yourself out of the washroom. Fact is that 90+% DO NOT do these things, unless they are being observed in those 'studies'. Triclosan makes a difference in the 3-7 second hand washing that most people DO employ. Plus it leaves a shield of protection on the skin that continues to kill bacteria and some funguses.

Recent outbreaks of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections WERE ONLY BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL when hospitals went back to using antibacterial soaps containing triclosan as part of the control program.

Chemicals are our friends.

Posted by: Darrell at May 13, 2008 07:57 PM

Of course, when one is in a hurry, one can just use hand lotion, in a North American counterpart to the "don't shower; just spray" philosophy.

Conversely, no one with dry skin should work in any health-related profession.

I have a friend who had oily skin, but when she trained as a nurse they washed their hands so many times a day her skin got to be as dry and thin as Kleenex--or, like my skin ;)

I have, BTW, been experimenting with harsh language as an antibacterial measure.

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 13, 2008 08:19 PM

Well at least you have a plan that doesn't keep chemicals out of the hands of people that rely on them.

Let me know how it goes! email, if you can.

Posted by: Darrell at May 13, 2008 08:50 PM

Actually, in a clinical setting I'd use Phisohex or Betadyne or whatever--particularly if there were superbugs roaming around.

It's just that I think in the home environment--and even in some small offices--overuse antibacterial soaps, and therefore may help to create superbugs. And since I know multiple people who have been the victims of resistant bacterial strains, it's actually (all kidding aside) a bit of a concern for me.

(Of course, as you know around the house I alternate between bleach solutions and alcohol on any surface that comes into contact with food. And if someone sets something "unclean" on the kitchen counter I have a tantrum!)

Posted by: Attila Girl at May 14, 2008 08:51 AM

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