The use of Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, in personal care products has exploded over the past decade. Although Triclosan is known to have been in use since the 1960s, this chemical has only recently entered the home environment under the pretenses of protecting our children and us from harmful bacteria.
Today, three-quarters of all liquid soaps are made with this chemical. This chemical is also used in antibacterial wipes, gels, shampoos, toothpaste and anti-acne creams. Is Triclosan safe? Is it safe to use Triclosan? The short answer to this question is NO.
Triclosan and allergies
Triclosan has been linked with allergies, including peanut allergy and hay fever.
A Norwegian study that examined 623 children aged 10 and older found the highest levels of Triclosan in those with a positive skin prick test or serum IgE for respiratory allergies.
Scientists believe that Triclosan may be the cause of the allergy. The antibacterial properties of Triclosan can last up to 8 hours after you wash your hands with it. Although Triclosan is not absorbed through the skin, scientists believe it’s absorbed through oral mucosa by children who suck their hands. Because Triclosan is especially active against gram-negative bacteria, it can cause dysbiosis, or an imbalanced microbiome, in the gut. This then triggers a faulty immune reaction.
Retrospective analyses of two other studies found that allergic sensitization was significantly related to urinary Triclosan, parabens and parabens.
Effect of Triclosan upon antibiotic resistance
A second concern is a connection between triclosan resistance and antibiotic resistance.
Triclosan resistance has been well documented in scientific literature. Numerous studies and reviews that have been done since 2000 have confirmed triclosan resistance in the skin, gut, and environmental microbes, including the MRSA strain of Staph Aureus.
Microbial resistance to Triclosan could directly impact resistance to other antibiotics, which is a more serious concern. For certain Salmonella strains and E.coli, preliminary evidence is available.
This is a serious issue, as antibiotic resistance is one of the fastest-rising global health problems. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 million Americans yearly are infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. At least 23,000 people also die from this infection. These numbers are rising each year.
Microbial resistance is at an all-time high. Bacteria can pass along antibiotic-resistant genes to their offspring and other bacteria. We don’t know how far we’ve come or if we have reached the point of no return. This could mean that the next major global infection could be fatal.
You can make the most important contribution by limiting your use of anti-microbial drugs and antibiotics to what is absolutely necessary.
Triclosan is not effective in preventing common infections.
Although you might think using antibacterial wipes, soaps, and gels is a good idea, there is not enough evidence to support the use of Triclosan in household soaps. It turns out that regular soap and water are just as effective in controlling infection in the home because Triclosan targets bacteria, not viruses, which are the most common causes of upper respiratory infections.