A Moment of Science

Bacteria A Must: The Downside Of Antibacterial Soaps

It may come as a shock to learn that some skin based bacteria is actually good for you. You might want to rethink all that hand cleansing.

A bullet travels through a yellow bar of soap.

Photo: nebarnix (Flickr)

Harmful bacteria is able to attack the human body when the natural bacteria is washed away.

Do you use antibacterial soap?

Or did you know that researchers have discovered that there are at least 250 kinds of bacteria that live on our skin? Some of the kinds they found were completely unknown. Should you be using extra-strength antibacterial soap?

Bacteria: The Necessary Tenants

Actually, just the opposite. Bacteria are natural, even necessary tenants in human bodies. There are more bacterial cells in the human body than human cells. Way more, in fact.

Not all bacteria are bad for you. The bacteria in our bodies are there for a reason. For instance, bacteria in our intestines are important for digestion. It’s likely that the bacteria on our skin play important roles in keeping skin soft and enabling it to do what skin is supposed to do.

The Popular Soap

So why is antibacterial soap so popular? Maybe because we’re obsessed with cleanliness, though it’s impossible to completely rid the skin of bacteria, and in any case it wouldn’t be a good idea to try.

There’s evidence that the bacteria that live in, and on us. They help protect us from microbes that do cause infections. Getting rid of our natural bacteria could pave the way for harmful bacteria to move in.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science