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No need for antibacterial soaps: experts

AAP logoAAP 9/09/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Just washing your hands with plain soap and water is good enough, say Australian infectious disease experts, as they advise consumers to ditch antibacterial soaps.

The US Food and Drug Adminstration has moved to end the sale of over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body-washing products over concerns their long-term use encourages the emergence of drug resistant-bacteria.

The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases and the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control have welcomed the decision.

The products that have been banned contain 19 specific antimicrobial substances including triclosan - an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps and detergents.

Studies have shown that triclosan can affect hormone function, damage the liver and kidneys, and is a suspected carcinogen.

Ramon Shaban, president of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control, says "We must consider every measure to slow the rate of antimicrobial resistance.

"Reducing the unnecessary use of such agents, in this case in products that are not used in clinical settings, is an important aspect of our collective efforts," Mr Shaban said.

Hand Hygiene Australia director Professor Lindsay Grayson says although this ruling relates to over-the-counter consumer products used in the community in the US rather than products used in Australian health care, the directive is consistent with the National Hand Hygiene Initiative recommendations in Australia.

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