Antibacterial soaps are everywhere these days. It seems like every other commercial on TV is advertising soap or a cleaner that "kills 99.9% of germs." It sounds great. Who wouldn't want to have cleaner hands and countertops, right? I know I don't particularly want nasty bacteria and viruses crawling all over my house and my kids. After all, that's how you get sick.
There is increasing concern that all these great antibacterial products may actually be contributing to the resistance of bacteria to medications that we currently use to kill them.
For example, there is a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus (S. aureus for short). The medications most commonly used to kill this infection are penicillins. But recently, a new strain of S. aureus has developed that is resistant to the penicillin class of antibiotics. It is called methicillin-resistant S. aureus, or MRSA. MRSA is a nasty bug that is very hard to treat. It used to be most common in hospitals, but in recent years has shown up in the community. And MRSA is just one in a long list of bacteria that have recently become resistant to the drugs that we have.
Because of the growing problem with MRSA and other resistant bacteria, researchers have been trying to figure out what can be done about it. A study was conducted to test the theory that antibacterial soaps may lead to some of this bacterial resistance. In the study, researchers provided some households with soaps and cleaners that contained antibacterial agents with 0.2% triclosan and others with the same soaps and cleaners that did not contain any antibacterial agents. Cultures were taken from participant's hands before the study and after one year.