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Should We Use Antibacterial Soap Or Regular Soap For Hand Wash? Which is Better?

Our body is exposed to millions of germs and bacteria every day and the most prone to catch bacteria are our hands. To keep ourselves from getting any type of infection, it is advised to clean our hands properly with soap.

The soaps are available in numerous varieties. While some boast about the softness they provide to the skin others boast about their antibacterial powers.

Should We Use Antibacterial Soap Or Regular Soap For Hand Wash? Which is Better?

There are numerous antibacterial products available that are believed to reduce the risk of getting sick with the bacteria and viruses that are hands come in contact with.

But the question remains, whether or not, these anti-bacterial soaps are effective or we can just use the regular soap to get rid of the bacteria or viruses that land on our hands.

Antibacterial Soaps

Antibacterial soaps are cleaning products that contain active antimicrobial agents that are not found in the regular soaps.

These antimicrobial agents kill the microorganism or stop their growth.

The antibacterial soaps contain a chemical named triclosan. Research suggests this chemical can impact hormone levels and bacterial resistance and is therefore banned from household and healthcare products by U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA)(1, 2)

Bacteria are not always bad. There are also some good bacteria that your body needs to maintain a healthy and balanced environment on the skin.

Pros of Using Antibacterial Soaps

Kills bacteria

Cons of Using Antibacterial Soap

Excessive use of antibacterial soaps kills good bacteria on the skin as well

The chemicals present in antibacterial soaps makes skin dry

Regular Soap

Regular soaps decrease the water’s surface tension and lift oil and dirt from the skin making it easy to rinse away. They are also effective in getting rid of bacteria and viruses causing germs.

Pros of Using Regular Soap

  • Regular soaps also kill bacteria and viruses
  • They contain fewer chemicals
  • Do not kill the good bacteria of the surface of the skin

Cons of Using Regular Soap

If hands are not washed properly with regular soaps they get less effective in killing the bacteria or viruses.

What Soap To Be Used?

As antibacterial soaps come with risk, FDA has ruled the manufacturers to stop using antibacterial ingredients most notably triclosan in the products(3). These chemicals are proved of causing unhealthy hormone changes(4).

It is also seen that triclosan interacts with sunlight and turns into dioxin which in some types can be carcinogenic. Research has linked adult exposure to the antibacterial chemical triclosan to unhealthy microbiome alterations in the offspring.(5)

Washing hands for at least 20 seconds can be sufficient to get rid of bacteria even with the regular soap.

If there are chemicals present in antibacterial soaps that can be harmful, it is better to use regular soap. But, make sure to use them properly in the nails, in-between the fingers and other neglected places to get rid of pathogens.

Tips For Washing Hands

Whatever soap you use, improper washing techniques can be a waste and would not be successful in washing away the germs.

5 Effective Tips Recommended By The CDC Are(6):

  1. Wet the hands with clean, running water and turn off the tap. Apply soap.
  2. Lather the hand by gently rubbing them together with soap in them. Lather the back of the hands, in-between the fingers and also in the nails.
  3. Scrub the hand for 20 seconds.
  4. Turn on the tap and rinse the hands with clear running water
  5. Dry the hands with a clean towel.

Make Sure You Wash Your Hands:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after taking care of anyone sick at home
  • After using the toilet
  • After touching the garbage
  • After blowing nose
  • After touching any pet animal, animal waste or animal feed
  • After changing diapers
  • Before and after treating any wound

Being ignorant of the above you can be a common spreader of any type of disease or illness.

Regular soaps can work equally well when used as recommended. Why expose the skin to the unnecessary chemical when the work can be done keeping it soft and supple.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 1, 2021

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