Antibacterial Soaps: Providing a False Sense of Security

The H1N1 virus has hit a lot of people this flu season. With the limited supply of H1N1 vaccines, people are encouraged to wash their hands often throughout the day using an anti-bacterial soap. Is this necessary? Will anti-bacterial soap keep you healthier this flu season?

Washing your hands is a very important part of keeping yourself healthy during the flu season; that’s undisputed. The difficulty with constant hand washing is that it can be very drying to your hands. The anti-bacterial agent—triclosan is most frequently used—in anti-bacterial soaps can be drying and irritating especially to people with sensitive skin.

Using a handmade soap such as Alabu’s goat milk soap, will not only wash bacteria and viruses off your skin, but it will help keep your hands from feeling dry and itchy through the winter months.

Often we tolerate dry hands thinking that we can fix it with lotion. Thankfully we don’t need to let it get that far. The CDC ran a study involving more than 200 households, some of which used antibacterial soap and the others using regular soap. They found that the antibacterial soap provided no benefit over the plain soap.

According to Samuel N. Grief, MD—medical director of campus care at the University of Illinois at Chicago—in an article for Everyday Health, “The kind of soap you use doesn’t matter. Any liquid or bar soap works just fine in protecting you against colds and infections.”

When using an antibacterial soap, the triclosan kills bad bacteria, but can also kill good bacteria that help keep us healthier during flu season. This antibacterial agent needs to be left on a surface for two minutes for it to do it’s job. Most of us are not patient enough to wait the two minutes before rinsing off the soap.

Regular soap is just as effective in eliminating harmful bacteria, but not all soaps will help keep your hands from feeling dry and itchy. Most commercial soaps actually act as detergents that strip your body of necessary oils that keep your skin moisturized.

Handmade soaps are just as effective as commercial soaps when it comes to cleaning, but they usually don’t dry your skin. Over the past ten years, Alabu, Inc. has been producing handmade soap in the capital region that is very moisturizing while effectively cleansing.

“I have been using their soap for years.” says Nell Turgeon. “As a parent of a child that has just had open heart surgery, it is very important that I keep my hands clean. I can’t afford for my daughter to get sick.”

It’s important that we all take the appropriate steps to avoid illness this flue season. Washing your hands frequently throughout the day is a major part to staying healthy. It is also important to not give yourself a false sense of security by using antibacterial soaps. Pick something more soothing for you skin as you also combat the winter months.

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