The Pros and Cons of Triclosan Containing Skin Care Products

What Is Triclosan?

Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent that is commonly found in personal care products. “Basically,  it’s a soap,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, board-certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. “It was first used in hospital cleansers decades ago. People began to recognize how effective it was as an antimicrobial agent, and started adding it to a number of other products.”

Triclosan can now be found in everything from acne washes to trash bags, toothpaste, medical sutures, even in kids toys. In recent years however, some have raised concern about whether this agent is practical and appropriate for daily use.

Think You Know Your Labels?

Hands and automatic soap dispenserHow often do we really check the ingredients on our products? Whether you know it or not, you probably use Triclosan containing products often if not on a daily basis. “Toiletries and personal care products like deodorant, facial cleansers, shampoo and toothpaste are probably the most common places to find Triclosan,” informs Dr. Mamelak. Not only can it help keep your complexion clear and teeth clean, but the agent has also incorporated in everything from fabrics and clothing, to cosmetics, furniture, even cookware. Triclosan is common in the healthcare industry and is found in hand sanitizers and the soaps doctors and nurses use between surgeries and patient encounters. It has been used to effectively decontaminate Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria.

Why Is It So Widely Used?

Numerous studies have also demonstrated Triclosan is safe in humans and also possess anti-inflammatory properties. These qualities in a highly effective antiseptic agent would be considered valuable particularly for skin care products, right?

“True or false, there’s a general belief that eliminating bacteria and maintaining a sterile environment is good for your health,” says Dr. Mamelak. However, according to the Food and Drug Administration, there is little evidence that the antimicrobial effects of Triclosan provide any additional benefit over regular soap. Furthermore, Dr. Mamelak also notes that the Hygiene Hypothesis, the fact that our environments are becoming cleaner, more sterile places, is one of the major theories used to explain the rise in allergies and skin conditions like eczema over the past decades.

Triclosan Ban?

Probably as quickly as this agent made it’s way into consumer products, has a new call to ban Triclosan surfaced.”Similar to the overuse of antibiotics, resistance is always a concern when the use of this type of agent is so widespread,” explains Dr. Mamelak. Triclosan also doesn’t break down that quickly, and retains its activity long after it goes down the drain. This has attracted a great deal of concern from environmentalists and ecologists who have cautioned the effect of these chemicals on wildlife and aquatic habitats. And although it has never been demonstrated to be unsafe in humans, there have been animal studies that suggested Triclosan can cause endocrine and thyroid problems.

Contact Sanova Dermatology

Do you have a question about the ingredients in your skincare products? Contact us today and our highly-educated staff will help you find the answers!

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