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Anti-Bacterial Soap No Better Than Plain Soap

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the hand-held-mutation-experiments dept.

Biotech 479

eldavojohn writes to advise us to stop buying antibacterial soap, as it's no more effective than the regular stuff. And, using it introduces a risk of mutation of bacteria. From the article: "The team looked at 27 studies conducted between 1980 and 2006, and found that soaps containing triclosan within the range of concentrations commonly used in the community setting (0.1 to 0.45 percent wt./vol.) were no more effective than plain soaps. Triclosan is used in higher concentrations in hospitals and other clinical settings, and may be more effective at reducing illness and bacteria. Triclosan works by targeting a biochemical pathway in the bacteria that allows the bacteria to keep its cell wall intact. Because of the way triclosan kills the bacteria, mutations can happen at the targeted site... a mutation could mean that the triclosan can no longer get to the target site to kill the bacteria because the bacteria and the pathway have changed form."

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But (0, Offtopic)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250043)

if you wash you hands a 100 times a day it is better for your skin. Ask you doctor, who has to do this.

Re:But (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250169)

But "IF I DID" murder my wife, and I am not saying I did, for nagging me about being online all day, which would be best to clean my hands so the CSI people can't catch me ?

Re:But (4, Funny)

ItsLenny (1132387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250355)

I recommend a strong bleach solution ...not so strong that it hurts but as strong as you can toler.... oh a what?... a joke.. oh.. yea of course.

FYI... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250459)

I'm an undercover agent working for the FB... oh, it was a joke. Nevermind I posted this. In fact, I didn't log in today.
*dammit, I blew my cover*

Hey, KDAWSON, how is THIS NEWS??!? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250711)

Explain that one to me. You stupid tool case.

Re:But (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250513)

Hydrochloric acid? It'd certainly make sure that there was no residue on your hands and that they couldn't trace finger prints (if they weren't already on record) ;)

Re:But (1)

neersign (956437) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250295)

my fiance is a med student and has been saying this to me for years (the negative effects of antibacterial everything in the household). It makes perfect sense if you stop and think about it. As for the dry skin thing, she can attest to that too.

Re:But (1)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250359)

But if it alcohol based, then bacteria can't develop resistance to it, right ? Any cell biologists out there care to comment ? I've never heard of a mutant bacteria that can survive alchohol, and most of the anti-bacterial soaps I buy, like at CVS, are alcohol based.

Re:But (2, Interesting)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250599)

Seriously... just lay off the stuff.

It's just as bad that your children don't develop a resistance to everyday germs.

My sister's got this weird OCD thing going with alcohol based antibacterials... she's beginning to sound like a heroin addict.

Re:But (5, Informative)

emeryw (1128863) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250719)

You're right. If it's alcohol based, it will just dessicate the bacteria and there's no chance of developing resistance. That's why you see little purell containers around the hospitals now. Alcohol based cleaners are also (surprisingly) easier on your hands than the old water-and-soap method.

(I've got a degree in cell biology, and I'm a med student, so that's where my info is coming from)

Re:But (1, Informative)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250467)

Anti-bacterial on everything in the house definitely seems to be a bad thing.

I had a friend at primary and secondary school, and his mum used to frequently wipe everything down with Dettol [dettol.co.uk] (don't know if it's a US brand as well). My mum wiped the surfaces down with a dish cloth, and occasionally used bleach or something when there was a particularly bad patch. He was ill way more than I ever was.

Okay, so it isn't conclusive, but given that they give inoculations for things then it can't be all that bad to actually expose yourself to some germs and bacteria and not just kill all of them, thereby leaving yourself more immune when you find a larger pocket.

Re:But (3, Interesting)

antarctican (301636) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250557)

my fiance is a med student and has been saying this to me for years (the negative effects of antibacterial everything in the household). It makes perfect sense if you stop and think about it. As for the dry skin thing, she can attest to that too.

And she is completely right. I work in computational biology, working for a microbiology professor who specializes in bacteria. Never get her started on antibacterial products, she's said more then once she wishes she could rip them all off the shelves of stores because of the risk they pose for mutations.

Antibacterial is bad, m'kay?

Re:But (5, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250729)

I work in computational biology

So, you're studying the germs on your keyboard? They say your toilet seat is cleaner, but I don't think I would eat off of either one of them.

Alcohol Based... (2, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250419)

just use the alcohol based ones. No mutations!

Not only that, but when you're camping, the sanitizer gel makes for a good fire starting paste.

Re:Alcohol Based... (4, Funny)

jdunn14 (455930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250507)

You can also sterilize cuts with it.... although it does burn like a hell. Yes, I've done it. Have the scars from landing in 6" of water on top of an oyster bar. Purel and electrical tape was all we had....

Re:Alcohol Based... (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250703)

I dunno, it sort of saddens me to think of all of those bacteria having to go to tiny little AA meetings.

Best for Bukaki ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250509)

I've wondered for years what would be best for bukaki, given that you don't know that one of the guys may be HIV+. Anyone with experience have a suggestion ?

Re:Best for Bukaki ? (2)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250579)

What's bukaki ?

news for nerds? (5, Funny)

Gabest (852807) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250055)

what is a soap?

Re:news for nerds? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250097)

what is a soap?
Something you should use if you ever meet a girl.

Re:news for nerds? (3, Funny)

middlemen (765373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250171)

what is a soap?

Something that you bend over to pick up when you are in prison.

Re:news for nerds? (1)

krakelohm (830589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250625)

For some people I am guessing its just an excuse to bend over in prison.

Re:news for nerds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250663)

Something that you should never bend over to pick up when you are in prison.

Fixed that for ya.

Re:news for nerds? (5, Funny)

evil agent (918566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250269)

what is a soap?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOAP [wikipedia.org]

Anybody have experience setting this up to protect machines against bacterial infections?

Re:news for nerds? (1)

Poltras (680608) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250441)

Anybody have experience setting this up to protect machines against bacterial infections?

Only viruses. Use alcohol-based SOAP in that case. It tastes better.

Re:news for nerds? (1)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250335)

A real nerd would know, it's Simple Object Access Protocol, and/or Service Oriented Architecture Protocol. Wiki entry. [wikipedia.org] .

Re:news for nerds? (2, Funny)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250505)

And here I thought it stood for the well-known sales technique, Seriously Overhyped Acronym Proliferation.

new subject line.. (5, Insightful)

middlemen (765373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250063)

Anti-Bacterial Soap Sells Better than Plain Soap

Hurray for marketing!!!

Re:new subject line.. (5, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250247)

Both hurt if they get in your peepee.

Re:new subject line.. (5, Informative)

antarctican (301636) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250631)

Anti-Bacterial Soap Sells Better than Plain Soap

Hurray for marketing!!!


Sadly yes. Last time I went to buy hand soap for home, of the two dozen different brands and sub-brand products on the shelf, only TWO were not antibacterial.

Even if I want to be a good buy and not use antibacterial soap, I can't.

Of course being exposed to some bacteria over your life is a good thing anyhow - it builds the immune system. That's why parents should let their kids go out side and play/eat the dirt, they'll be better for it in the long run.

But you are right, screw the facts, hurray for marketing!

Re:new subject line.. (4, Funny)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250721)

Plain soap got commoditized and the profit margin dropped. Hence, the manufacturers went looking for some new "improvement" that they could add that would allow them to command a price premium. Of course, once they saw incremental increases in sales for the "improved" competitive product, the other manufacturers followed. Now they all have the same situation with somewhat higher costs and we are worse off -- there is massive exposure to the chemical agents and the bugs are being selected for resistance. As for me, I have taken to buying my soap from a "organic" company just to avoid all the "extras". I have no problem using synthetic agents where apporpriate, but generic use is not appropriate.

As for germ phobia, I have a short, but relevant, observation.

When you are a first-time mother of a new-born, when the pacifier hits the ground you wash it off and sterilize it before it goes into the child's mouth again.

When your newborn second child drops their pacifier onto the ground, you wipe it off and stick it back in their mouth. After all, eating dirt didn't appear to hurt #1.

When your newborn third child drops their pacifier onto the ground, "Fido, fetch". Then you wipe the worst of the dog slobber off the pacifier and stick it back into their mouth. You have observed that dog germs and dirt didn't hurt numbers 1 and 2.

Unfortunately (5, Interesting)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250067)

Over the last few years it's become harder to find hand soap (at least the liquid type) that isn't antibacterial. The fad has pushed the added chemicals into all the major brands.

Kirk's Castile Soap (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250541)

Try Kirk's Castile Soap [kirksnatural.com] - in my area, Rodman's carries it for $.99 per bar, and it's excellent. I haven't used their liquids, but the bars are really high quality.

Re:Unfortunately (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250739)

The clear Ivory Liquid Hand Soap is the one major brand that I know that doesn't have antibacterial additives. We've been using it exclusively for years, but it's often hard to find the cheaper large refill size.

Re:Unfortunately (4, Informative)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250801)

I've started making my own soap. Mostly because I have that Mad Scientist bug and it involves toxic chemicals (Lye), and partly because MacGyver is my patron saint. It's fun, and cheep in comparison to the price of soap. All you need is oil, lye, a few buckets and some rely big pans. Try soapcalc.com for getting your ratios right.

I've Been Saying This for Years (5, Interesting)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250071)

I've been saying for years that plain soap is good enough, and that it's bad for us as a species to use anti-bacterial soap. I have "body wash" in my soap dispenser in the bathroom, because all the "hand soap" is anti-bacterial these days.

Just goes to show that even an uninformed, loud-mouthed, opinionated jerk is right sometimes.

-Peter

Re:I've Been Saying This for Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250147)

>> plain soap is good enough

Yes, but sham-poo works a lot better than real poo.

Re:I've Been Saying This for Years (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250469)

That depends entirely on your objectives.

Physics versus Chemistry versus Biology (5, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250279)

Soap, a surfactant, kills using physics. It turns lipid membranes inside out. Also by reducing surface tension it creates other havoc (e.g. it suffocates garden insects who drown when their air-pores are blocked ). It's essentially impossible to evolve away from this without immense changes to the very design of the but. Sure it can be done but it's an enormous burden on the germ.

Chlorine kills with chemistry. It tends to react with a lot of things and even create radicals. It's a little easier to deal with for bugs since they encounter oxidizing environments naturally and have learned to adapt, but it's still so generic an attack that in high concentration it's very lethal and almost impossible to mutate away from.

Bacteria-cide works by biology, targeting some very specific feature of the bug that is mutable. The difference between antibiotics and "bacteria-cide" is largely the degree to which the target is mutable. Target the ribosome machinery and it's unlikely the bug can mutate in time--antibiotic. Target something less unique and primitive and the bug mutates eventually.

Re:Physics versus Chemistry versus Biology (1)

Gori (526248) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250353)

Hear, hear...

There is nothing more stupid than continuously introducing small quantities of antibiotics in the environment. It only breeds resistance. Kind of like the overkill on pesticide use. Only gets you multi-resistant weeds...

Cook's Illustrated Recommends Vinegar (3, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250481)

For cleaning vegetables anyway, a mild vinegar solution killed more bacteria on the surface of vegetables than did soap. The food scientists at the magazine explained that lowering the pH interferes with many kinds of biological processes inside bacterial cells. A quick Google search turned up this interesting site [michaeland...ouffer.com] that recommends using hydrogen peroxide as well.

That being said, I think we should trust our immune systems more. Unless the immune system is compromised in some way, it does a bang up job fighting off most bacteria. When I was a kid, I played in the dirt and ate bugs. Now, I never get sick and I have no allergies. I think over-protecting the immune system not only weakens it, but causes it to focus on the wrong types of things, creating more allergies.

allergies and exposure (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250633)

I've suggested to all of my friends with children that they should let their kids play with (and be licked by) my dog, as a pre-emptive anti-allergy exposure. I agree that the world nowadays is way to "sterile."

Re:Physics versus Chemistry versus Biology (4, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250555)

Good summary. Note, however, that soap doesn't even need to kill germs - soap along with the mechanical action of hand washing is meant to carry germs away with the soap down the drain. This is something that would be extremely difficult to evolve a protection against, and therefore is a very useful strategy.

Re:Physics versus Chemistry versus Biology (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250637)

"The difference between antibiotics and "bacteria-cide" is largely the degree to which the target is mutable. Target the ribosome machinery and it's unlikely the bug can mutate in time--antibiotic. Target something less unique and primitive and the bug mutates eventually."

Ahem.

a) there is no real differnence between "bacteria-cide" (sic) and "antibiotic", they're both pretty loose terms in themselves. The proper term most pharmacologists would use is antibacterial agent but to describe something as bacteriocidal is perfectly legitimate and has no relation to its mechanism of action.

b) By your definition penicillin and related antibiotics would not be classed as such since they affect the synthesis of the cell wall, not the ribosome or anything relating to the protein synthetic machinery.

In any case bacterial resistance to antibiotics covers a wide range mehcanisms and IIRC the most common (exemplified by the resistance to penicillin) is to co-opt a metabolic enzyme for the purpose of degrading the foreign substance, e.g. beta-lactamases. This is analogous to the use of restriction enzymes as mechanisms of defence against viral infection in bacteria.

Incidentally it seems triclosan is a bacteriostatic rather than bacteriocidal agent, i.e. inhibits growth rather than killing. And before you run away with the notion that that underpins the idea that it's not a "proper antibiotic" I might remind you that chloramphenicol is a bacteriostatic agent which works (guess what) by inhibiting protein synthesis.

STFU.

Re:I've Been Saying This for Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250313)

If you have a Trader Joes, I get dye free, non anti-bacterial soap there.

I think I have found in other stores too. Typically if you get dye-free stuff, it's better in other ways.

Dyes are often directly related to marketing. Products like Cheeto's, Gatorade, Fanta, Scope, Tide, ... are marketed for look (from added dyes) and smell (from added perfumes), more than usefulness, health or taste.

Re:I've Been Saying This for Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250671)

Well for foods, look and smell are important. Smell because scent is closely related to the sense of taste. And the appearance of food has a lot to do with our enjoyment of it as well, it sets up certain expectations of what it will taste/feel like.

It's not really too important what Tide looks or smells like, though.

Re:I've Been Saying This for Years (2, Funny)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250491)

"I've been saying for years that plain soap is good enough"

I take it your conversations with women don't end up that well, at least for the past few years?

Re:I've Been Saying This for Years (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250593)

I became convinced that antibacterial soap was a horrible idea for everyday use when I read The Coming Plague [amazon.com] . While the plague she described hasn't yet emerged, I don't think it's a good idea to tempt fate.

I've found that Kirk's Castile Soap [kirksnatural.com] is antibacterial, high-quality, and cheap too. In the mid-atlantic, Rodman's sells it for $.99 per bar.

Re:I've Been Saying This for Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250611)

You can prevent bacterial mutation from overuse of antiseptics by not bathing. It is optional to grow a ragged beard and have Cheetos crumbs all over your shirt too.

AB soap vs soap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250121)

People still don't know this? I did this as a science fair experiment in 8th grade. I used raw rotting red meat and compared different types of soaps, and grew some horrible petri dish cultures in the process. I tested about 10 brands and kinds of soap and none of them made any substantial difference at all.

When triclosan stops working... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250127)

switch to tetraclosan, then pentaclosan...

Re:When triclosan stops working... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250167)

And cyanide. Lots and lots of cyanide.

Say what..? (1, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250153)

Tric...losan [trik-lowsun] - fooled 'ya! Only kidding! This stuff is no better than spit and sand, sorry chump!!

Re:Say what..? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250569)

That's why I use acid. No germs left on my hands!

Duh, and... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250161)

...people take antibiotics too often as well.

Our bodies are germ fighting machines. Sometimes it gets overwhelmed and needs help but more often than not it can fight off most everything.

It's all about money. Damn the environment, health, people's lives, future as long as someone is making a ton of money.

Think of the germphobes! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250175)

While I quite agree that plain soap is good enough, I've known some real germ-phobic types, OCD sufferers, hypochondriacs, and similar who wouldn't be able to go out into the world and function without some sort of antibacterial agent in their pocket. What do we tell those people now that their beloved Triclosan is known to just screw things up further?

Re:Think of the germphobes! (1)

Bertie (87778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250377)

Erm... "Get a grip"?

Funny how you don't get obsessive-compulsive hand-washers in poor countries, isn't it?

This is because they have real problems.

When your mind's got nothing to worry about, it starts making shit up.

Only solution for these OCD types is to confront it and stop it.

Re:Think of the germphobes! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250429)

Yeah, it's a lot easier to deal with the handicapped and the crazies by simply stoning them to death or chucking them into the jungle or something, rather than help them grow into contributing members of society. I wonder why more countries don't adopt this format of advanced mental health program.

Re:Think of the germphobes! (1)

Bertie (87778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250753)

That's the point, these people aren't crazy. They've just got nothing more pressing to worry about. I'm not for one minute suggesting that it's not a real problem, I'm merely saying that it's an irrational problem and that the only way to deal with it is to confront it head-on.

Re:Think of the germphobes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250521)

Funny how you don't get obsessive-compulsive hand-washers in poor countries, isn't it?

Would you care to turn your opinion into fact by providing a little support for your statement?

Re:Think of the germphobes! (1)

sveard (1076275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250483)

I suffer from OCD (rather badly), but have always used (plenty of) regular soap. Some other people with OCD I know, they wash their hands with bleach. So if you consider that they'd wash their hands with something that toxic, I don't think they'll care about anti-bacterial soap being better than plain soap.

From a handwashing pro... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250177)

As a compulsive hand washer, I wash my hands nearly every darn minute: after petting the dog, after touching anything, after checking /., and so on. I've made it my goal in life to try every single soap there is; I have found out so far that the natural, home-made are best. They leave the skin feeling cleaner, and aren't as rough as ones with so much junk in it. But then maybe they're not made for people who use them as often as me!

Re:From a handwashing pro... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250725)

How about psycho-therapy? At least try to get some help...

Corroborating old news (5, Informative)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250179)

The combination of scrubbing your hands with soap -- antibacterial or not -- and rinsing them with water loosens and removes bacteria from your hands.

From: Mayo Clinic Article 05 Dec 2005 [mayoclinic.com]

It has been known for quite some time that it's the mechanical action that does an important part of the work for disinfecting your hands. The water and soap just help the process by carrying dirt and bacteria away. This is part of the reason that you don't see hand sanitizers allowed as a replacement for proper hand washing at restaurants and other commercial food prep areas.

Re:Corroborating old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250679)

This is part of the reason that you don't see hand sanitizers allowed as a replacement for proper hand washing at restaurants and other commercial food prep areas.
You're not allowed to piss in the consommé either, but that never stopped anyone. So in the end it doesn't matter anyway.

We've known this for years (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250181)

I'm flabbergasted that people still buy antibacterial soap. For years I've known that antibacterial soap isn't any more effective then normal soap, and I fear the super-bacteria being created by this soap.

Here's an article from consumer reports in 2004:

Don't bother with antibacterial cleaners [consumerreports.org]

I went to Target last week to look for bulk containers of liquid hand soap. It was **all** antibacterial soap, normal soap didn't exist.

Re:We've known this for years (1)

benjamin264 (813527) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250379)

Use Method [methodhome.com] . It is available at Target and most grocery stores... At least in California.

Re:We've known this for years (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250795)

We have it in NJ, too, at least at Wegmans supermarkets. Their soaps come in attractive containers and the soap itself has jewel-like colors, which is nice, since they have to stand out against all the antibacterial quackery on the shelves.

Love those sponsered links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250185)

For all that triclosan.

The ironing is delicious.

The war on bacteria (1)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250227)

I'm always hearing about how we should not use antibiotics unnecessarily because it allows bacteria to adapt to and as such defeat their use. I get that, but aren't we then fighting a losing battle? Are we all just waiting around until bacteria become superior and wipe us out? Is there any way to escape this eventuality?

Re:The war on bacteria (1, Insightful)

blazer1024 (72405) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250333)

Allow your immune system to fight off bacteria like it's supposed to, instead of giving it a nearly sterile environment to grow weak in.

It's like a great boxer who decides to retire because he feels it's too dangerous. He then spends the next 10 years watching television. Then he realizes he needs some money, so he decides to have a comeback fight. Well, he hasn't been training in 10 years. Now he's fat and slow and has no stamina. So he gets in the ring and loses.

Re:The war on bacteria (1, Informative)

Bertie (87778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250657)

Well, they'd never managed to find an answer to penicillin in the countless millions of years before Fleming stumbled on it, so the indications are that they'd need a very, very long time to crack it by themselves if we weren't bathing the entire world in a weak antibiotic solution that they're getting increasingly used to.

And they'd never quite managed to wipe us out completely either. We can adapt too, admittedly not as fast as they can, but if we have a large and sufficiently genetically diverse population, the chances of at least some of us surviving are very good.

The problem now is that we're acting as if we can eradicate them, but we never, ever can, and if we keep exposing them to antibiotics etc. in doses insufficient to completely wipe them out, they'll come back stronger, and eventually we'll run out of tricks. The reason why your doctor reminds you to finish your course of antibiotics, even if you're feeling 100% normal again, is to make sure that nothing has survived to reproduce.

Re:The war on bacteria (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250733)

Nope there's no way to escape this. It's all part of the same interaction between pathogens and hosts that's always gone on- emerging diseases can kill lots of people, so humans tend to become less affected so the pathogen changes etc. etc. (though of course it's not quite that simple because ultimately it doesn't usually make sense for a pathogen to kill it's host quickly) Antibacterials and antibiotics delay this, but don't stop it.
The mechanical and heat actions that are the primary disinfectant actions of normal soap and hot water are however a lot more difficult for bacteria to evolve an effective response to, without compromising themselves in other ways, as they involve a multitude of processes that are very basic.

Why use soap? (1, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250243)

I'm not a frequent soap user at all, unless I really have some grime going on. I find that a simple rinsing a few times a day, along with the good ole pumice scrub, works wonder -- and keeps my hands soft enough to work with. Since I do a lot of hands-on production, I absolutely HATE the feeling of dry hands that comes along with using soap. Moisturizers are worse, since they always leave a greasy feel -- and when working with print jobs for churches [vipministry.com] , I can't leave smudges behind.

I've always told the wifey to stay away from anti-bacterial anything. A lot of bacteria is GOOD, and the ones that are bad are relatively easy to defend against if you're healthy. We want our bodies to adjust to whatever new bacteria is growing in our homes. Between cleanings, you'll have some growth. The body has a great defensive system already -- it builds the necessary defenses to learn and kill whatever comes into the body.

I've been sick twice in the last 2 decades -- once when I shook the hand of someone who was days later became VERY ill, and once after I rubbed my eyes after playing craps in a casino late one night. Both times I didn't rinse my hands after -- and I recovered well enough in a matter of days (much faster than the guy I got sick from).

Let others be suckers and buy into the manufacturer's marketing campaigns about what is healthy and what isn't. Humans have been around for a long time -- longer than soap. Running water > most daily chemicals for living longer and healthier.

Re:Why use soap? (3, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250415)

It's always been my contention that attempting to sterilize the environment is what's going to get us killed off eventually. Call it "War of the Worlds" Syndrome -- eventually we wipe out most bacterial life, with the possible exception of those most beneficial to us, which have been genetically altered. We move out into the universe to claim our rightful place and are felled by some bacteria from another planet that we cannot acquire an immunity to since our immune systems are so weak from not having to fight off bacteria/viruses.

The fact is our immune systems have to be exposed to these things in order to give them a chance to build up resistance/immunity. I've actually never thought of a cold as a bad thing, if it increase the armament that my immune system has available to fight disease. I used to be pretty immune to colds, though over the years stress and lack of rest have compromised my ability to fight things off like I used to.

The other scary part of the equation is, if this is killing off 99.9% of bacteria, what about that last .1%? Aren't we really creating super bacteria this way?

Re:Why use soap? (1)

R_Dorothy (1096635) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250681)

A lot of bacteria is GOOD,...

A friend of mine had some antibacterial soap that claimed to kill bad bacteria and promote good bacteria. The brand no longer claims this so I guess we weren't the only ones who thought it was ridiculous.

Don't try to fight it... (4, Funny)

infestedsenses (699259) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250249)

I, for one, welcome our new mutant bacteria soap overlords.

it IS better (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250253)

It's just better at facilitating mutation and resistance to anti-bacterial agents, instead of the opposite...

Soap study (2, Informative)

LaMuk (257751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250287)

Some years ago, I read an article about a study that Johnson & Johnson did. In a third will country with wide-spread dysentery they gave 100 families anti-bacterial soap and 100 families plain soap. And there were 100 families that got no soap at all. Instructions were given as to when to use the soap. They found that there was no difference in the cases of dysentery between the families with the two different kinds of soap, but a huge difference between the soap and non-soap families. The families with soap had almost no cases of dysentery.

I always wonder if these companies ever feel for their study groups and actually try to relieve a little suffering by making the knowledge and in this case the soap easily available in these countries.

Re:Soap study (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250325)

I thought dysentery was caused by drinking bad water.....

The other bad thing about antibacterial soaps.. (3, Insightful)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250309)

is that they tend to dry and irritate the skin more than plain old soap. This makes the skin actually more vulnerable to pathogens. I, too, have been advising folks to just use plain old soap and water and avoid antibacterial soaps. My grandmother used to make her own lye and lard soap. Maybe not such a bad idea. Being a germophobe isn't necessarily a good idea.

harshness (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250709)

If you're worried about the harshness of soap, I'd stay away from the lye+lard stuff: it's pretty rough on the skin. I'm a big fan of castile soap (I really like Kirk's [kirksnatural.com] - it's old-school, and cheap too), and that's not quite so rough but it still does the job.

Soap is for pussies (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250345)

If you really want to rid your hands of germs, use 200 proof ethanol.

Watta surprise! (1)

Maimun (631984) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250357)

I would be extremely surprised if that was not the case. Just as I would be surprised if, for instance, the "revitalising" shampoos work, i.e., re-vitalise the hair. Does anyone take advertising seriously?

Re:Watta surprise! (1)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250537)

Shampoos are filled with nasty chemicals.
When their marketing department says 'comes from coconut' it means "we use sodium laureth sulfate" -- a known carcinogen. It's also what makes your eyes burn like hell.

Go one step further (1)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250373)

Just use lye like baby powder.

speaking as a former nurse (4, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250375)

When I trained as a nurse in the early nineties we were taught to fear the germ. They piled on so much shite about asepsis that you could end up paranoid about bacteria. I am not exaggerating...

On the wards we had anti bacterial soap, and cleaning alcohol dispensers, and there was a strict routine, wash with the soap, then the alcohol, and do so many, many times throughout the day.

The result was nurses with awful skin, and screw the patients, *we* were getting infections.

Within a year someone with a brain dumped the routine, and our soap/alcohol dispensers were replaced with non scented, ordinary liquid soap. Amazingly enough the much espoused explosion of infections because of the mighty germ failed to materialize.

Then they buggered it all up by replacing in house cleaners with minimum wage contract workers, and we got a whole new set of problems, but that's another story.

What surprises me is that this is news now. as far as I'm concerned, this was all sorted out fifteen years ago. I guess different hospitals have different standards.

hooray! (1)

rubberbandball (1076739) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250405)

now THIS is news for nerds!

What next?! (0, Redundant)

Unique2 (325687) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250411)

Deodorant performance tests?
A book review of the Kama Sutra [wikipedia.org] ?
'What's your best chat-up line?' on Ask Slashdot?

This is Slashdot! Most of us don't that soap exists, nevermind that there are different types!

Re:What next?! (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250549)

Most of us don't that soap exists

Or there's thing dictionary, neither.

WHAT plain soap? (1)

Myrkridian42 (840659) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250417)

All hand soap I see at the store says "Anti-Bacterial". All the brands have switched. I know because I would use plain soap if it was there.

Re:WHAT plain soap? (1)

Gori (526248) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250615)

Just look at the bottom shelves, all the way to the right. (The most expensive stuff is at eye-height, on the left) The very cheapest, white, unscented generic brand stuff. Im sure its there...I can get six bars of soap for under 1 euro over here. Lasts me months...

Re:WHAT plain soap? (0)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250787)

As an example, Kirk's Castile [kirksnatural.com] isn't antibacterial, and it's both high-quality, and pretty inexpensive. I'm a big fan, myself.

I only buy Chinese soap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250433)

Instead of triclosan they substitute ethylene glycol, which has shown no increase in resistance and makes your hands extremely resistant to boiling over in hot summer weather.

research? (1)

doublecinchknot (1143541) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250477)

It took research to figure this out? Docters have been saying not to use this on children or elderly for years now. What the hell is the U of M wasting time on this crap for? It would be nice is "regular" soap was anywhere to be found in store now-a-days, and if "regular" soap had a smell better then just "soap".

Greased Lightn' (1)

dlhm (739554) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250563)

I use Greased Lightn', I also say just remove the top layer of skin and you'll remove the bacteria that on it too. Lava Soap works good too. just not in the private areas... unless you into that..

Mutations and greenhouse cleaning (2, Interesting)

future assassin (639396) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250623)

I've read several months back in a hydroponics gardening magazine that some green houses are now staying away from bleach and other chemicals when flushing their systems between crops. Seems the constant bombardment of flushing agents is mutating pathogens that attack plants. What they are doing now is actually flushing the system with water and then introduce beneficial microbes into the system. Once those are established they replant the greenhouse. Now there is a protective layer or beneficials that out number the pathogens and make it harder to them to get established on/in the plant.

How to breed tough germs (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250629)

When you're looking for antibiotic resistant, tough-as-steel and unkillable bacteria, you don't go to a biology lab. You go to a hospital.

When you hear that some hospital has a problem with bacteria, stay away. Far away. Preferably you're on another continent. Yes, even if it's just some "normal" bacteria strand that causes something like a mild sneeze or something else that's usually harmless and goes away in a week or two of rest.

Simple reason: There's nothing in the world that could kill those critters. Those are the descendents of the bacteria that survived the onslaught of the toughest anti-bac crap that's available to mankind.

That is btw also the reason why taking antibiotics for harmless junk illnesses is about the worst thing you can do, surpassed in stupidity only by taking them only 'til the symptoms end. If you accomplish anything that way, it is to toughen the bacteria, but not yourself. They'll be back with a vengeance, and then those ABs won't hit them anymore. They adapt amazingly quickly. Kill them all, ok. Kill 99.999% of them and you're in for trouble.

The problem takes care of itself (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20250691)

So what we are saying is that eventually anti-bacterial soap will no longer kill bacteria.
If this is true... then it will no longer be anti-bacterial!
Problem solved!

triclosan (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#20250769)

i think i remember reading somewhere that chemical derivatives of triclosan are endocrine mimics. which means they mess with things like amphibian reproduction (amphibians are on the decline around the world). triclosan is found in 60 percent of American stream and rivers now

and you can even find triclosan in breast milk now too: it gets in our food via fertilizer. hey, when you flush it down the drain, it has to go somewhere. sometimes it comes back to you

now normally, a slight level of this chemical or that chemical is no big deal. for example, chloroform and dioxin are chemical byproducts of triclosan reacting with chlorinated water. but that doesn't matter, as the levels of those scary sounding chemicals are the same as normal background readings, meaning hysterically mentioning them has no real scientific basis for alarm (but is effective propaganda for the scientifically uninitiated)

but endocrine mimics are different, as the slightest of levels really can have an effect on biological processes. but i guess that's ok, because between all of the birth control, propecia, viagra, and xanax we're also pissing and flushing into our waterways, yes, our animals and children will all be hermaphrodites, but they will have a full head of hair, a hard on, and be strangely blissful about it all

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa029&arti cleID=024FEAE8-E7F2-99DF-323D8E02C4E48BF6&pageNumb er=1&catID=9 [sciam.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triclosan [wikipedia.org]
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