Cold & Flu season is right around the corner. By now, most of us are well aware that consistently washing your hands is the number one way to avoid getting sick this season. What many are not aware of though is that the soap you may be using can actually harm your long term health:
Antibacterial liquid soaps containing triclosan (and bars with triclocarban) are no better at preventing infections than regular soaps--and may also decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics, according to a review of 27 soap studies at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Using antibacterial soap may even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product's antimicrobial agents — making it harder to kill these germs in the future. The bottom line, says lead author and assistant professor of epidemiology Allison E. Aiello, PhD, is avoid products labeled antibacterial. So what's left? Here is Aiello's advice:
Best Choice: Plain soap and warm water
Scrub for 20 seconds, including under your nails and between your fingers. Running lots of water over your hands will dilute any germs and send them down the drain.
2nd Choice: Alcohol-based sanitizer
Formulas containing 62% ethyl alcohol are ideal for on-the-go cleaning and don't contribute to antibiotic resistance. Downsides: "Alcohol won't work well if there is visible soil on the hands," says Aiello. And keep these products away from kids--they may cause intoxication or poisoning if ingested.
3rd Choice: Nonalcohol sanitizer
Formulas containing benzalkonium chloride, or BAC, are favored by some for children because of the lack of alcohol. Downside: BAC "has been associated with antibiotic resistance," says Aiello--though less often than triclosan.