Antibacterial soaps are often overused. Most experts agree that washing your hands with normal soap is just as efficient for most normal day to day moments.
After all, we aren’t surgeons preparing for conducting an operation. But we do act as such feeling the need to almost obssesively sanitze our hands.
We have been led to believe by powerful marketing machines that bacteria lurk everywhere and we that are far from safe without our antibacterial wipes, soaps, and gels.
The truth however is that those antibacterial soaps may do more harm than good.
Don’t get me wrong here, using an antibacterial soap for your smelly feet is one of the essential elements of the cure. (Or, for that matter, another substance with a potent bactericidal activity such as a rub or lotion.)
However, for your hands, often you can do without such a potent germ killer. And for your feet it’s probably wise to be picky about which soap you use.
Be picky about your antibacterial foot soap
Many antibacterial soaps contain the active ingredient Triclosan. Which is a rather harsh substance.
The antibactericidal chemical Triclosan is absorbed by the blood (and even transferred to fetuses in pregnant women)
- is a potential endocrine disruptor,
- is known to encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics,
- is linked to thyroid dysfunction,
- can disrupt hormones and impair muscle contraction
- is linked to liver toxicity,
The dirty side of soap
A just published (Nov. 17, 2014) study conducted by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine shows triclosan causes liver fibrosis and cancer in laboratory mice. The development of the disease in mice follows a molecular mechanism that shows humans are also at risk.
On a larger scale it has also shown to end up in public water causing potentially serious problems.
The American Medical Association says its best not to use triclosan in the home at all.
Triclosan is ocassionally found in shampoos, toothpastes, deodorants, mouthwashes, and cleaning products.
Check the labels to be sure it’s not in your products or use the Think Dirty app that lets you scan health products and provides a safety score based on its ingredients.
Back to sweaty feet.
Which antibacterial soap should you use for you smelly feet?
If you can’t use an antibacterial soap for your feet that contains triclosan, which soap should you use?
When it comes to desinfecting, germ-killing soaps and rubs there are roughly four types based on their active ingredients:
- Derman plus (triclosan),
- Hibiscrub (chlorhexidine)
- Betadine (PVP-iodine)
Surgical hand rubs
- Sterillium and Softaman, (active ingredient=alcohols)
It’s clear we say goodbye to Derman Plus. Which one should we get? Hibiscrub or Betadine? Or one of the alcohol based products?
This PubMed study shows that Hibiscrub has a more potent antibacterial action than the other two handwashes.
All five products achieved a reduction of test bacteria within 3 min [..]. However, only Hibiscrub, Sterillium and Softa Man met the requirements of prEN 12791, giving a mean reduction of resident micro-organisms (immediate and sustained effect).
The surgical hand rubs score equally as good regarding antibacterial properties so in theory these might be good alternatives as well. I haven’t used any of those though. Nor do many people if I’m correct. If you do, let me know if it works for you in the comments.
That’s why, for washing your sweaty smelly feet, I recommend Hibiscrub. It’s a popular choice. Many people use it to reduce the amount of odor causing bacteria on their feet.