Many self-care and common household products come with biocides aimed to kill germs and bacteria. What is Triclosan? Triclosan is a biocide used as a disinfectant in many of self-care and household products. Chances are you’ve had heavy exposure to it, and it’s proving to be dangerous in the fight against deadly infections.
Scientists from the University of Birmingham and Norwich Research Park have discovered a link between a major mechanism of antibiotic resistance and resistance to triclosan. Researchers found bacteria that mutated to become resistant to quinolone antibiotics also became more resistant to triclosan.
The quinolone-resistance mutation changed the way the bacteria package their DNA inside a cell. This change also turned on various self-defense mechanisms that create triclosan resistance.
Quinolone antibiotics are an important and powerful group of human medicines, and this new discovery raises concerns that the use of triclosan can give antimicrobial resistance.
Triclosan has also been linked to the emergence of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) outbreaks and salmonella.
Corresponding author Dr. Mark Webber, from the Quadram Institute and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said, “We think that bacteria are tricked into thinking they are always under attack and are then primed to deal with other threats including triclosan.” Bacteria are constantly priming themselves to deal with all kinds of threats. Their response includes growth of antibiotic resistant strains.
Doctors only have so many effective drugs to fight off bad bacteria when it’s necessary. We need to allow our bacteria to run its natural course and not confuse it with unnecessary daily use of antibacterial products.
In the last three decades there has been an explosion of products aimed at the home market labeled as 'antimicrobial.' Everyone needs to stop using these products. Just use soap and water to wash your hands. The ingredient was banned by the FDA in 2016 in some products, but even though it's been phased out of many formulations, triclosan can still be found in some cleansers, toothpastes, lotions and other items. It's best to check labels on everything, especially when you've had a product in your cabinet for a while unused.
To avoid buying products with triclosan, the Environmental Working Group has a catalog of common household items loaded with triclosan.You can search their database here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.