If you are like most people you probably wash your hands several times a day. I know I do. What kind of soap do you use? A lot of people push the idea that you need to use antibacterial soap to make sure you’ve killed all the germs. It has become so common now that it is sometimes difficult to find soap that isn’t antibacterial, especially in liquid soap pump dispensers. They even put packets of antibacterial soap outside of the play areas in fast food restaurants. Is all of this antibacterial soap a good idea?
Is antibacterial soap safe? I don’t think so. I think it is a very bad idea and won’t use it myself. I believe that antibacterial soap actually supports the bad bacteria. I’m not talking about some kind of conspiracy where antibacterial soap actually feeds bacteria or something. No, this is simpler.
Taking Out the Good Guys With the Bad Guys
Your hands, like your gut, have both good an bad bacteria on them. The good bacteria in your gut helps you to digest food, eliminate waste and keeps the bad bacteria under control. The good bacteria on your hands help to keep the bad bacteria in check on your skin and form your first line of defense against illness. Like the use of antibiotic medications do with your gut, indiscriminate use of antibacterial soap kills both the good bacteria along with the bad, stripping you of your first line of defense.
To put it in medieval terms, using antibacterial soap is like dropping a nuke on the battlefield outside your castle. While it does kill off the invading horde, you have also killed all of your own soldiers and left yourself vulnerable to the next wave of invaders, and there is always a next wave.
Saving the Bad Guys
When you use antibacterial soaps the residues get into the environment and can essentially inoculate the bacteria against the antibacterial agents in the soap making them immune the next time they are exposed to it. This works the same way as vaccinations do with children to help them build immunity to the many childhood illnesses that they may otherwise be subjected to.
To return to the medieval analogy, we have now made the invading horde stronger. We have given them the ability to evade some of our strongest defenses and begin looking for breaches in the castle wall. This is not good.
I think the only real winners when you use antibacterial soaps are the drug companies who make the medications that you will need once the invaders make it inside your castle wall.
Finally, everything I have read says that antibacterial soaps are no more effective at eliminating bacteria than regular soap and water. So, instead of using antibacterial soap every time you wash your hands, just use a regular soap and treat your hands well.What is your take on antibacterial soap? Are you for or against it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.
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