In the past 25 years, the number of antibacterial products available to consumers has exploded from approximately 60 in the mid-1990s to more than 700 today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There was a time when it seemed that antibacterial soaps, cleaning products, or child care goods were all that were available. I’m relieved now that many of the families with children I knew at the time didn’t opt to use them.
Completely sterile homes lead to children (and adults) who are more prone to sickness, asthma, and allergies. Science has finally proven what our parents and grandparents realized…
A little bit of dirt is good for you.
They weren’t crazy. Johns Hopkins University reported the findings of studies conducted between Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and other facilities who care for children.
“The findings are consistent with the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which states that children who grow up in too-clean environments may develop hypersensitive immune systems that make them prone to allergies.”Antibacterial soaps and cleaning products are overkill.Click To Tweet
The Difference Between Hospitals and a Healthy Home
When utilized in a hospital environment – where germs are rampant – antibacterial soaps are successful in stopping the spread of dangerous bacteria, fungus, and viruses that can lead to hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).
These infections affect patients receiving treatment in a medical facility and most commonly are found in the bloodstream, respiratory system, urinary tract, and site of surgical procedures.
The CDC reported more than 721,000 HAI occurrences in United States hospitals in 2011 alone. More than 70,000 patients died as a result during their hospitalizations.
Since then, stricter sterilization practices (particularly the use of antibacterial soaps) have seen a dramatic decrease in cases. Some areas of infection experienced a 2% drop and others showed a significant 50% drop. The CDC admits there is still much work to be done to get this problem under control.
Antibacterial products that are alcohol based help in these environments because hospitals, clinics, and other acute care facilities are filled with sick people.
Your home is not a hospital. Even during cold and flu season, your home cannot compete with the massive number of germs found in a medical facility that deals with everything from food poisoning to gunshots to surgeries. Since most colds, flues, sore throats, coughs, bronchitis, sinus infections, and ear infections are caused by viruses rather than bacteria…these products do nothing to protect you.
Antibacterial soaps and cleaning products are overkill. Not only do scientists agree that too many antibiotics in products, foods, and prescriptions contribute to antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance, they aren’t convinced antibacterial products even work.
They kill beneficial bacteria as well as bad. They leave behind a chemical residue that researchers have linked to thyroid dysfunction, increased risk of life-threatening allergies (such as to peanuts), hormone disruption, antibiotic resistance, and cancer.
Triclosan and triclocarban were two of 19 chemicals the FDA ruled must be removed from consumer goods. When combined with water (such as with antibacterial soap), a chemical reaction occurs that isn’t evident (to date) in the use of hand sanitizer or wipes that aren’t used in combination with water.
The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA issued a press release on their findings after years of consumer pressure. Director Dr. Janet Woodcock stated, “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. In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
When you use products intended for hospitals – and now marketed to consumers – in a healthy home, they don’t help but they can certainly hurt. The CDC issued a report to the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2000 about this issue.
It was published in 2001 and essentially ignored for 15 years.
From their abstract, “Scientists are concerned that the antibacterial agents will select bacteria resistant to them and cross-resistant to antibiotics. If they alter a person’s microflora, they may negatively affect the normal maturation of the T-helper cell response of the immune system to commensal flora antigens; this change could lead to a greater chance of allergies in children. As with antibiotics, prudent use of these products is urged. Their designated purpose is to protect vulnerable patients.”
The World Health Organization states, “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health today. It can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.” They go on to explain, “Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. AMR is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.”
It’s All about Basic Hygiene
No one wants their child to be the “stinky” kid. I’m not suggesting you let your son or daughter imitate Pig-Pen from the Peanuts comics.
When babies are born, they’re so tiny and fragile that panic is easy to embrace. You want them to be healthy and happy. They need germs for that (seriously). Your immune system gets stronger by “working out” – and it needs germs to dead lift in endless repetitions.
If you don’t let them gain reasonable exposure to germs, their bodies never learn how to deal with them. The younger they strengthen their immunity, the better for their growing bodies.If you don’t let kids gain exposure to germs, their bodies never learn how to deal with them. Click To Tweet
Drop the Antibacterials (and Antimicrobials) – You’ll Feel Better
Let your immunity get the exercise it needs to protect you in the long term.
When you get that awful cold you have trouble shaking, forget about sterilization of your home with antibacterial soaps, sprays, and cleaning products.
Get some rest, drink plenty of fluids, and wash yourself (as well as the surfaces you touch) with good old-fashioned soap and water, or natural disinfectants. It’s the most effective way to get better. Along with a bowl of homemade chicken soup (scientifically proven to shorten colds).
Be clean…but not too clean.
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