Antibacterial soap is out;plain soap and water is back in.The FDA announced Friday that they're banning soaps marketed as antibacterial that contain any of 19 active ingredients.Companies will be expected to reformulate products that contain them or pull them off the shelves within one year.
The verdict comes three years after the FDA asked manufacturers to essentially justify the continued use of those ingredients.Research had recently suggested that the use of those ingredients might make bacteria less resistant and/or disrupt hormones over a period of time.Some companies began reworking their formulas right away—as for the others,the data they turned into the FDA wasn't enough for the agency to give the ingredients the green light as safeandeffective.The manufacturers also couldn't prove that they were more effective than plainsoapand water.
"Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs,but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water," said Janet Woodcock,M.D.,director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER),in astatement."In fact,some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long term."
Next time you're in need of soap,either skip over any marketed as "antibacterial"—or do a little read of the ingredients list.
Here's what to avoid:Triclosan(found in liquid soaps andflagged by the FDA in 2010as a possible safety concern) andtriclocarban(found in bar soaps) are by far the most common of the ingredients.The former,as Philip Tierno,a clinical professor in microbiology and pathology,toldSELF,might mimic thyroid and sex hormones (scary).
If those aren't on the label,and the soap is still marketed as antibacterial,take a skim for these guys:
- Iodophors (Iodine-containing ingredients)
- Iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitanmonolaurate)
- Iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethyleneglycol)
- Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine
- Poloxamer—iodine complex
- Povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent
- Methylbenzethonium chloride
- Phenol (greater than 1.5 percent)
- Phenol (less than 1.5 percent)
- Secondary amyltricresols
- Sodium oxychlorosene
- Triple dye
The good news is you don't have to give up your alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wipes.These products are 100-percent OK;there's no evidence of germ resistance to alcohol or other scary effects.