Feeding the superbugs: Why we need to wash our hands of antibacterial soaps

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

Since COVID-19, the simple act of hand-washing has been elevated beyond the mundane into a public health headline and potentially life-saving act.

People wash their hands now. Soaps and sanitisers are in demand, and also ubiquitous – in handbags, backpacks, at pub and shop doors.

This is undeniably a good thing. But for Monash University researcher Professor Trevor Lithgow, who works on superbugs that are resistant to medicines and predicted to kill 10 million people a year by 2050, it’s a dilemma. The questions he’s been asking himself and his team are: “Is this a good time or a bad time to get involved in health advice over hand-washing? Can we come up with a message that does good?”

Period24 Mar 2021 → 25 Apr 2021

Media contributions

4

Media contributions

  • TitleWhy antibiotics shouldn’t be in soap
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletCOSMOS Magazine
    Media typeWeb
    CountryAustralia
    Date25/04/21
    URLhttps://cosmosmagazine.com/science/why-antibiotics-shouldnt-be-in-soap/
    PersonsTrevor Lithgow
  • TitleChemicals working against superbug plan
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletDaily Mail
    Media typeWeb
    CountryUnited Kingdom
    Date11/04/21
    URLhttps://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/aap/article-9457909/Chemicals-working-against-superbug-plan.html
    PersonsTrevor Lithgow
  • TitleAntibacterial Soaps Do More Harm Than Good: Australian Medical Experts
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletThe Epoch Times
    Media typeWeb
    CountryUnited States of America
    Date25/03/21
    DescriptionThe widespread use of antibacterial hand wash and hand sanitisers, promoted as a prevention measure against COVID-19, will lead to a rise in superbugs that cause untreatable diseases, Australian biomedical experts warn.
    URLhttps://www.theepochtimes.com/antibacterial-soaps-do-more-harm-than-good-australian-medical-experts_3747104.html
    PersonsTrevor Lithgow
  • TitleWhy there are growing calls to ban antibacterial soaps
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outlet3AW693 newstalk
    Media typeRadio
    CountryAustralia
    Date24/03/21
    DescriptionThere are growing calls for antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps to be banned.

    The soaps are no more effective than regular soaps, but fuel superbugs which are resistant to treatment and can prove deadly.

    Director of Monash University’s Centre to Impact Antimicrobial Resistance, Professor Trevor Lithgow, says the labels are marketing ploys.

    “I think that we’ve done a great job as a community in promoting hand hygiene … with this heightened awareness comes the anticipation that something that says it’s antibacterial or antimicrobial must therefore be better,” he told Dee Dee.

    “Our concern is that they are chemicals which are washed off into the environment and that they do select for drug resistance … characteristics in the super bugs that are being created around us.”

    The United States Food and Drug Administration has already banned antibacterial and antimicrobial chemicals from being added to soaps.
    URLhttps://www.3aw.com.au/why-there-are-calls-to-ban-antibacterial-soaps-from-sale/
    PersonsTrevor Lithgow