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Your handwash may contain triclosan; here’s what you need to know about it

From public places like airports to restaurants and gyms, there's a dispenser ready to give you a dose of anti-bacterial on the go.  But, did you know every little squirt of sanitiser is harmful?

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
October 22, 2019 11:54:57 am
Triclosan is a common ingredient found in many grooming products, including toothpaste, facial washes and deodorants. (Source: Getty Images)

We are a population obsessed with the idea of germs. Taking advantage of this fact, companies have marketed products of all kinds to keep germs far away from us. From public places like airports to restaurants and gyms, there’s a dispenser ready to give you a dose of anti-bacterial on the go.  But did you know every little squirt of sanitiser is harmful?

Triclosan is a common ingredient found in many grooming products, including facial washes, toothpaste and deodorants. However, it is mainly found in antibacterial hand washes, soaps, gels, and household cleaners. Commonly used to kill bacteria, the FDA advisory committee has found that using products that contain this ingredient does not help as much as plain soap and water.

In a statement, FDA said: “some short-term animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan is associated with a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones.”

On a trip to the grocery shop, you may wonder whether to buy a regular packet of liquid soap or one with anti-bacterial printed on it. This is exactly why we need to be aware of how triclosan can affect us. While products with this antibacterial agent claim to be promoting good health, these are indeed misleading. Triclosan does not provide any additional health benefits to the consumer, but it surely poses risks to human health.

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It is a known endocrine disruptor; it especially causes thyroid and reproductive hormones to fluctuate. Moreover, it is a skin irritant. Studies have raised that exposure to triclosan over time contributes to making bacteria unaffected by antibiotics.

Constant exposure takes place mainly by absorption through the skin or the mouth’s lining, for example, when you use a toothpaste containing triclosan. This has resulted in contact dermatitis, and an increase in allergic reactions, especially in children. It has also been detected in human milk samples and in urine at high concentrations of those who regularly engage with this compound.

The ill-effects of triclosan on human health:

1. Abnormal endocrine system/thyroid hormone signaling.

2. Weakening of the immune system.

3. Children exposed to antibacterial products at an early age have an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma, and eczema.

4. Uncontrolled cell growth.

After an intensive study by the FDA, manufacturers have started removing this ingredient from their products. If you’re concerned about triclosan, look for products that don’t list it in their ingredients.

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How to be clean without antibacterials:

1. Wash hands frequently, especially before eating or after using the washroom. Ensure, that you wash them frequently after being in contact with a family member who is sick.

2. Dry your hands with a clean towel.

3. Start inculcating washing your hands with natural plant-based solutions like vinegar, lemon, and essential oil.

4. Ensure that you use triclosan-free soap and triclosan-free hand sanitiser. Look out for products that contain fennel extract and other essential plant oils like tea tree, grapefruit or pine essential which are antimicrobial.

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