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Paper of the day - Antibacterial soaps 'no more effective'

Plain soap is as effective as those that contain antibacterial chemicals in preventing infectious diseases, according to a new study.

Antibacterial soaps remove no more bacteria from the hands during washing than plain soaps, researchers from the University of Michigan school of public health found.

They looked at results from 27 studies of soaps containing the antibacterial triclosan at levels of 0.1 to 0.45%, and concluded that the extra cost of antibacterial soaps was not worth it because they did not prevent any more infectious disease or remove more bacteria than standard soap.

Triclosan may also result in bacterial mutations that make standard antiobiotics such as amoxicillin less effective, the Michigan researchers warn, and they call on drug regulators to evaluate the claims of antibacterial products.

Antibacterial hand cleansers used in healthcare may contain higher levels of triclosan, alcohol and bleach, and they were not part of the study.

Clinical Infectious Diseases 2007; 45 (4): August issue

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