Even after 40 years of research, the FDA can't find substantial evidence that antibacterial soap and other antiseptic wash products curb bacterial growth. As a result, manufacturers had to prove that their products are safe and more effective than regular soap and water. If they fail, their products risk being removed from store shelves and warehouses. Such removal began in 2016.
Triclosan, best known for its germ-killing ability, may not be what it seems. Back in the 90's, this drug was only found in hospitals and pesticides, but later on was added to a variety of personal care items such as soaps, body washes, and home products. Aside from soap, they started adding this chemical in wipes, hand sanitizers, and even to cutting boards and mattress pads—all in an effort to live in a bacteria-free world (which is highly impossible).
Surprisingly, the FDA had not issued a warrant for triclosan's removal from home products. Back in 1972, the FDA was ordered to create set guidelines, but only submitted their final draft in 2012.
Considering how often antibacterial soap is recommended for cleaning gel liners, stump socks and the like, we highly suggest using quality pH balanced prosthetic cleansers for your skin and amputee supplies. Below are our reasons why:
1. Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than conventional soap and water. The FDA has no proof that antibacterial soaps are more effective for preventing illnesses. This is probably because antibacterial soaps target bacteria and not the viruses that cause colds and flu.
“I suspect there are a lot of consumers who assume that by using an antibacterial soap product, they are protecting themselves from illness, protecting their families,” Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the FDA’s drug center, told the AP. “But we don’t have any evidence that this is really the case over simple soap and water.”
2. Antibacterial soaps have the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There's a range of health risks posed by triclosan, among them is bacterial resistance, which is currently a big problem for hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Super bugs, such as MRSA, have acquired resistance to different drugs, which complicates the efforts to control and treat infections as they spread. While further research is required, health officials are adamant that triclosan may be fueling this resistance.
3. Triclosan-laden soaps could disrupt endocrine functions. Triclosan seems to interfere with thyroid hormone regulation in animals. If this is true for humans, it could lead to issues such as early puberty, obesity, cancer, and infertility. Considering how minimally effective antibacterial soaps are, it's best not to opt for gentler cleansers for your residual limb or amputee supplies.
4. Health problems can develop. Prolonged exposure to triclosan reduces a child's contact with bacteria, which leads to poor immune system development. This results in increased chances of developing allergies, including hay fever and aversion to peanuts.
A study also showed that triclosan can inhibit muscle contraction in human cells. This is concerning for amputees, as proper muscle movement is key to functioning properly with your prosthesis. If you still want to wash your liners with antibacterial soap, make sure to wash off all the soapy residue.
5. It's not environmentally friendly. Triclosan is known to stubbornly persist in sewage plant treatments even after filtering. This is harmful for our planet. You may want to consider using personal hygiene products that are safe for you and the planet.
So, what are your options?
If you still strongly prefer antibacterial products, know that there are a lot of great options. One is a non-antibiotic hand sanitizer that kills both bacteria and viruses with alcohol. Prosthetic cleaners are also great because they are made of soap, formulated to be pH balanced, and are free from harsh antibacterial ingredients. Prosthetic cleansers, which are specially formulated for cleaning prosthetic liners and sleeves, are typically safe for sensitive skin.