Anti-bacterial soap is no different from regular soap when it comes to killing germs, study says.
Researchers from South Korea conducted a study in which they tested anti-bacterial and regular soaps to see how they respond when faced with twenty strains of bacteria. Further research was made to test the soaps on dirty hands.
“The study shows that the presence of antiseptic ingredients in soaps does not always guarantee a higher anti-microbial efficiency during hand washing,” said Min-Suk Rhee, a researcher at the Department of Food Bioscience and Technology, at Korea University in Seoul, after he discovered triclosan, a controversial chemical substance, in the anti-bacterial soap.
Discovered in 1960, triclosan in known to be an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent that acts as an antiseptic element when used in soaps. According to researchers, triclosan is now added not only to soap, but also to shampoo, toothpaste, toys, clothing, furniture, etc. in order to prevent bacterial growth.
The product is controversial, because it can have negative effects on someone’s health. Long-term exposure to triclosan may lead to hormone disruption, resistance to antibiotics, allergies. Researchers have found that mice might even develop cancer because of triclosan.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that, in the new study, researches should test the soaps, both regular and anti-bacterial, against bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Salmonella and Listeria.
During the experiment the bacteria were exposed for twenty seconds to two things: regular and anti-bacterial (0.3 percent triclosan) soap and temperature. The temperature was first set at 22 degrees Celsius or 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit and then a little higher at 40 degrees Celsius and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Researchers found that the triclosan component in the anti-bacterial soap did nothing when used for short periods of time. When it was left for about 9 hours on the bacterial samples, it indeed showed better results than the regular soap did. According to researchers it is possible that the other ingredients in the soap might have hindered triclosan’s anti-bacterial properties.
In another study, researchers asked 16 volunteers to wash their dirty hands for 30 seconds with either anti-bacterial soap, or with regular soap. The results showed that there was no big difference between the two.
Rhee is of opinion the manufacturers should stop claiming that anti-bacterial soaps are a lot more efficient than regular soaps.
Dr. Pritish K. Tosh, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, said that if the regular soap performs just as well as the anti-bacterial soap, this raises a question of why these products even exist on the market.
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