Antibacterial soaps, more harm than good? - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Antibacterial soaps, more harm than good?

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Antibacterial soaps could do more harm than good.  

The Food and Drug Administration said there is no evidence that antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps help prevent the spread of germs.

There is even some evidence they may pose health risks.

"If antibacterial soaps were gone tomorrow, we'll be okay," Dr. Shane Speights, with St. Bernards, said.

Dr. Speights said he has always been anti-antibacterial soaps, but said the type of soap is less important than your hand washing method. 

"When you're washing your hands, the fact that you're moving them back and forth with the soap, that actually helps scrub all of the bacteria off," Speights said. 

However, this still worries some avid antibacterial soap users in Region 8.

"It's a big concern for me," Paragould resident Eileen McGuire said. 

McGuire said she will switch to regular soap because of the FDA's new proposal.

"Why pay extra for that if it's not gonna do the job? Somebody needs to regulate it, most definitely," McGuire said.

Another Region 8 resident said he never gave antibacterial soap a chance.

"It seems like it dries my skin out," Bay resident Norman Nix said. "The regular soap will do better or just as good. It seems to do the trick for us."

Companies add two chemicals to regular soap to make it antibacterial. One of these chemicals, Triclosan, got the FDA's attention. It is used as a pesticide.

"Oh no! That ain't good. That ain't good at all," McGuire said. "I don't need any type of chemicals."

The FDA worries the Triclosan in antibacterial soaps could lead to health risks. 

"If it's causing me more problems, then I sure don't need that," McGuire said.

The FDA is now requiring companies to post Triclosan on soap labels and prove antibacterial soaps are safe and more effective than plain soap and water.

"I'd watch the label," McGuire said. 

"I don't know what you can get nowadays that's not bad for you in some way. I mean, you can't ever tell if it's gonna be good for you or bad for you," Nix said.

If companies cannot prove antibacterial soaps are good for you, they would have to reformulate, relabel or possibly remove them from the market.

This new FDA proposal does not apply to hand sanitizers or hand wipes.

The FDA wants the community to weigh in on this proposal. To voice your opinion, visit the FDA's website.

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