This common beauty ingredient may be detrimental to your health
Triclosan, an ingredient added to many consumer products, is being phased out by major manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson and Proctor and Gamble, as well as from hospitals and health care systems, like Advocate Health Care.
Intended to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination, Triclosan is added to hundreds of consumer products, including various shampoos, toothpastes and cosmetics. However, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t have evidence that Triclosan in over-the-counter consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water, last year, the FDA made the decision to ban it from hand soap and body wash sold in the United States because “some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
“Advocate Health Care made the switch because of concerns the FDA has about Triclosan (hand washes and body washes) and Triclocarbon (bar soaps) causing long-term health issues,” says Brian Walesa, director of epidemiology and infection prevention at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “The FDA had banned the use in certain consumer products while still allowing it in health care, pending a further review.”
“After a review of the most recent World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations pertaining to hand hygiene, we thought it would be best to proactively remove it,” states Walesa. “The WHO guidelines found that antimicrobial soap is not necessary to limit the spread of infection within a hospital. Regular soap and water are more than adequate when performing hand hygiene in the majority of cases.”
“Advocate has eliminated these antimicrobial products from the health care setting because of daily-use concerns that include a possible link to a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones and potentially contributing to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. My recommendation for consumers is to check ingredients in all cosmetic products and avoid products with Triclosan and Triclocarbon,” states Dr. Stephen Sokalski, an infectious disease specialist with Advocate Christ.
About the Author
Kate Eller was a regional director of public affairs and marketing operations for Advocate Health Care. She enjoys road trips, dogs, minimalism, yoga, hiking, and “urban hiking.”