:: Saturday, October 22, 2005 ::
No Shit Moment Of The Week
Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than regular soap. Why is this a "no shit" moment? When you wash your hands with normal soap (for >20 sec, about the time it takes to sing Mozart's classic hit, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"), the amphipathic (both water-loving and water-hating) compounds that make up soap get in-between the molecules of bacterial cell membranes. This is the same thing that happens when you use soak greasy pots in soapy water; it just happens faster because of the smaller individual quantities involved. When the soap molecules get into the membranes of bacterial cell, they cause the membranes to rupture. All cells define themselves by what's inside their membranes - when the membrane is ruptured, all the biochemical goodness is irrevocably lost, and the cell dies.
Antibacterial soaps have, you guessed it, antibiotics in addition to actual soap. Thing is, most antibiotics target and disrupt cell mechanisms, which take a few minutes to kill the cell, when the actual soapy onslaught is done with in 20 sec leaving, hopefully, nothing left for the antibiotics to deal with. Can we say "overkill?"
Not only are antibiotics not neccessary in your average hand soap, but they, like any other antibiotic, hold the danger of encouraging antibiotic resistance, which is a long enough subject that I'd need to write a separate post for it.
Needless to say, I've been unhappy with the recent emphasis on antibiotic this or that, having long been persuaded by those arguing for the reduced usage of antibiotics. At least some people who have some regulatory power are now coming around to the same viewpoint.
:: The Squire 7:17 AM :: email this post :: ::