Antibacterial Soaps Unsafe? FDA Examines Body Washes and Liquid Cleansers

Beauty lovers, do you worry about germs? Many of us have been led to believe that washing our hands with antibacterial products is the way to go, but recently, the Food and Drug Administration said otherwise.

The FDA wrote off what we thought were facts about soaps claiming to kill bacteria as myths. In a new report unveiled on Monday, the agency found that antibacterial cleansers don't live up to the hype. "Millions of Americans use antibacterial hand soap and body wash products," said the agency in a statement. "Although consumers generally view these products as effective tools to help prevent the spread of germs, there is currently no evidence that they are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water."

The health care authority also pointed out the potential risk of hormonal imbalance caused by triclosan and triclocarbon - common ingredients found in around 2,000 antibacterial products - which may be toxic as well. "Further, some data suggest that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products -- for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) -- could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects."

But what are the FDA doing about their findings? 

Well, the administration has proposed a new rule requiring manufacturers to not only guarantee that using antibacterial products on a continual basis is perfectly safe, but also provide proof that those items are more effective than regular soap. Before the guideline is finalized, companies will need to provide data to support their claims. But if manufacturers don't give evidence, it will have to reformulate or relabel its products as non-antibacterial  to remain on the market.

The move, which won't affect antibacterial items used in health care settings, isn't a total shock. For years, several experts have warned that regularly using products like hand sanitizers may cause new antibiotic-resistant bacteria strands.

The Center for Disease Control advises wetting hands with clean, running warm or cold water before applying soap. Rub hands together to create lather, making sure to include area between fingernails and under nails. Then, scrub hands for at least 20 seconds or the length of the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice. Rinse well under clean, running water, and dry with a clean towel.

What do you make of the FDA's findings? Thinking twice about washing up? Tell us your thoughts on antibacterial soaps and body washes, and if you use them with a note below!      

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