By Dr. Maria Simbra


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For more germ killing power, some soaps tout the active ingredient triclosan.

“Triclosan is an antibacterial, antifungical product that can kill bacteria and fungus,” says dermatologist Dr. Brian Horvath.

But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

In several studies, researchers are finding soaps with this ingredient do no better than regular soap. They looked at bacteria exposed to different concentrations of soap with and without triclosan. They looked at hands dipped in bacterial solutions, then washed with soap with and without triclosan.

There was no difference.

“The antibacterial soap did no better than regular plain soap and water,” says Dr. Horvath.

The only difference they found was when the bacteria were exposed to the triclosan for nine hours. And generally people don’t wash their hands for nine hours.

“At higher concentrations than 0.3 percent it seems to do a better job at killing bacteria, but the limit that’s allowed to be used in regular soap is 0.3 percent,” Dr. Horvath adds.

Furthermore, there are concerns about this additive — antibacterial resistance, hormone problems in animals, and harm to fish.

“When people use it on their hands, the water goes through our sewer system, and it is detected in streams and lakes. So it may have an environmental impact as well,” he points out. “There might be a reason to use antibacterial soap if you’re in a health care setting, or if you have an illness that makes your immune system slightly suppressed. But for most people who are generally healthy, there doesn’t seem to be an advantage to using antibacterial soap vs regular soap.”

Turns out, there aren’t many soaps on store shelves that contain triclosan, though online you can find several.

Since they aren’t all that different, just skip the triclosan, save your money, and know that regular soap is doing as good a job.

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Dr. Maria Simbra