Be aware, wash with care

The coronavirus has increased the amount of times we wash our hands. Due to the high demand for antibacterial soap, businesses have hit all time record sales.

As we continue to buy these chemically prone products, who’s to say antibacterial soap is more beneficial than regular soap?

The proposals of the two soaps differ in the way we are told to use antibacterial products, the harmful chemicals found in antibacterial products, and the way people think about washing hands in general.

The media has driven us to the supermarkets, forced us to wipe the shelves clean and has made us bunker down in our homes with mass quantities of toilet paper and a hoarded overflow of antibacterial hand soaps and wipes.

The idea behind using such products, however, are not proven to lower the risk of getting sick, the spreading of germs, or being infected by a disease.

The problem with antibacterial products is that, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there isn’t enough science to show that over-the-counter antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water.

Theresa M. Michele, MD, of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products says, “Following simple hand washing practices is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness at home, at school and elsewhere.”

Not only has the media told us to run out to the stores and stock up on these products, but we also have the idea that antibacterial soap contains chemicals that regular soap does not.

Chemicals inside antibacterial soaps can be harmful and dangerous to our health.

According to an article by the Ponchatoula Times (2015), “Experts say, “Triclosan (the most widely used antiseptic agent in soap), has been one of the commonest ingredients in antibacterial soaps, which are used by millions of people and generate $1 billion in sales annually in the United States alone.”

However, studies have linked it to antibiotic resistance and hormone problems, prompting a safety review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that may lead to restrictions,

Dr. Stephen Luby, the study’s lead investigator and a medical epidemiologist at CDC has stated, “Hand washing with soap is something that is within the reach of hundreds of millions of at-risk families worldwide.”

The CDC notes that “about 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two killers of young children around the world.”

The products we use to wash our hands are just as important as the way we think about washing our hands.

Soap and water have proven to prevent the spread of germs while antibacterial soaps are still being tested for long term effects.

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