How about an anti-bullshit soap?

There have been a lot of press releases and studies coming out in the last couple of years stating that antibacterial products really aren’t better for you than regular soaps, the latest being a story which hit the AP a couple of days ago.

Regular Soap vs. Antibacterial Cleansers

In an 11 to 1 vote, advisory panel members concluded that mass-marketed antiseptics have shown no evidence of preventing infections more effectively than hand washing with regular soap.

“There’s no evidence they’re a good value,” Alistair Wood, MD, chairman of the FDA’s Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee, tells WebMD. “There doesn’t seem any good reason to buy them.”

The committee made a unanimous exception for evaporating alcohol-based hand cleansers, which it said could be of use in places without ready access to soap and water. Those places could include daycare settings with no nearby wash basin or use by travelers who spend time away from convenient, clean water sources.

Soap Industry Responds

Representatives of soap and detergent companies say their products live up to their labels, which claim that they significantly reduce the presence of germs on the hands.

“We believe that the benefit of reducing harmful germs on the skin is apparent,” says Brian T. Sansoni, vice president of communications for the Soap and Detergent Association, an industry group.

“We are concerned that consumers’ access to these products might be limited in some way,” he says.

Look at the soap companies falling over themselves trying to dispute the study’s findings.  Hah!

I’ve never been one to fall for the whole antibacterial craze…  It started with hand soaps, and once those took off, I began to notice that everything had an antibacterial flavor:  bandages, lotions, dish soaps, body wash, toothpaste, hand wipes, toilet paper (!), facial tissues, you name it.  (I even saw a brand of facial tissues which claims to be “antiviral.” Wow!)  All these claims of killing germs to make you “safer” never really convinced me that those products were better for some reason.  There is also a school of thought which says that your immune system needs practice to get stronger; if you don’t have germs around, you’re setting yourself up for some major sickness when something really nasty invades your system as well as opening the door for “superbugs” to develop, which are resistant to these products.  This idea is apparently debateable, but most reports cite it when warning against using these products.

Regardless of the superbug issue, after flipping through some of these articles (a simple Google search will turns up loads of them) it looks like the antibacterial soaps aren’t any more effective at keeping germs at bay than regular soap, which means the public has once again been duped by marketing scumbags who love to prey on our safety concerns.  They’re always looking for “vertical markets” to make up new products for, and they especially love to target your children:  “You don’t want your child to be crawling with evil GERMS, do you?”  You know what they say about things being too good to be true…

0 thoughts on “How about an anti-bullshit soap?

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  1. What does the study say about products like Purell? I have a co-worker who constantly uses Purell and won’t open doors without a tissue or paper towel. I have also noticed a trend to put antibiotic wipes near the grocery carts in the grocery store so that you can wipe down the cart handle of the cart before you go shopping. People are putting so much energy into fearing germs, I don’t think it’s healthy!

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  2. As far as I can tell, Purell is simply rubbing alcohol with some nice scent added to it. I haven’t seen it mentioned in a lot in these stories… Some people do get carried away with that stuff, though. If I’m out camping or something outdoorsy like that and need to eat with my hands, I might use some. But not when opening doors or touching every public surface, yikes. Just wash your hands normally and it will all be fine…..

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  3. I did see hand sanitizer mentioned in one article. “The Experts” felt that these hand sanitizers did not contribute to antibiotic resistant bacteria and that they were effective and useful when a conventional sink was not available. As an evil pharmaceutical rep, I use a hand sanitizer multiple times a day. It just isn’t practical for me to wash my hands after visiting each doctors office (besides, then I would have to use paper towel to open the door on the way out to maintain my germ free status). I’m not a germaphobe but I figure that with all the phlegmy, diseased types that loiter in a doctors office, the clinic door handle has to be a really nice repository for a plethora of bugs.

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