Does anti-bacterial soap endanger kids?

04/11/2010 12:00 PM

11/18/2010 12:11 PM

Q. Is anti-bacterial soap dangerous for kids? I have read the FDA may be banning it.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the safety profile of a chemical called triclosan. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent found in many household products, including soaps, deodorant, cosmetics and even some clothing.

One of the main concerns is that triclosan could induce antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Also, a recent study showed that triclosan altered hormone levels in laboratory animals. Currently, none of the products has been removed from the market.

Study after study has shown that hand-washing with regular glycerin soap is just as effective as using anti-bacterial soap for killing germs. Therefore, many people argue that anti-bacterial soaps are unnecessary and overused. So stay tuned for more information.

Q. Do you have any recommendations about which sunscreens are the safest for children? I have read conflicting information and heard that some sunscreens may be harmful.

Eighty percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure occurs by age 18 years. Therefore it is very important to take sun safety precautions for children. This includes avoiding sun exposure during peak hours and applying sunscreen 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplying after excessive sweating or swimming.

When choosing a sunscreen, the best options are sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. If your child has sensitive screen, then fragrance free options are best. Sunscreen should not be used for infants younger than six months of age.

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