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Anti-bacterial soaps / cleaners

Mary Jo Starsiak mjhc at vom.com
Sat Jul 24 18:25:06 EST 1999

I am a nurse practitioner and I also teach a begining Biology class. I found
an e-mail dated 1 Aug 1995
It was bundled with a summary of a topic entitled Super Soaps aired February
on Channel 4 ( in San Francisco CA.) . The program explored whether Dovesoap
worked as well as Lever 2000, Dial, and Softsoap against bacteria on the
host's hands. Dove did just as well. I would like to quote in my class.
I need permission and your title. It seems you wrote the following :
 " All soaps are anti-bacterial. But are they truely disinfectants? Not
really. Killing 99% of the bacteria is not sufficients because of the rapid
growth rate of many organisms. But the average person doesn't know that.
Disinfectants work in very different ways than antiobiotics. They chemically
denature the organism or disrupt its structure. There are very few defenses
for this and it is very unlikely for an organism to evolve a mechanism for
withstanding this harsh treatment without the organism becoming obligated to
exist continuously in a harsh environemet. Disinfectants such as Lysol have
been around for years and theyare still just as effective as ever.  There is
however another potential probem with the proliferation of disinfectants as
a portion of personal hygiene. Every human being has normal flora associated
with every outer surface of their body. These organisms residing upon us are
living off of nurtients we ingest or excrete and do not cause disease. ( I
would say usually do not cause disease). These harmless bacteria occupy all
body surfaces and prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing us. Too much
disinfection of body surfaces could reduce the presence of beneficial
bacteria & create opportunities for colonization by disease causing
bacteria. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. In other words, if you're not
sick. Lay off the disinfectants".  I really like what you said - does it
still hold true in 1999? Did you write this or did Steven Enkemann ? I tried
to e-mail enkemans at dc37a.nci.nih.gov but it did not go through - I thought I
would try other address on Aug 95 e-mail
Please respond. 
Thanks, Mary Jo

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