Human and health is something that is inseparable. Good health can help humans to have a better life and be able to do many things in their life. However, we all know that humans are not invincible as humans can get sick. When sickness affects a human, medicine may be needed in certain conditions. One of the ingredients or chemicals used in medicine practice is triclosan. Triclosan may seem like a new thing to you. Here we will learn more about triclosan and what it is used for.

Triclosan is an antimicrobial active ingredients that can be found in many products. In general, this means that triclosan is able to slow or stop the growth or bacteria. The ingredient is added in many products such as antibacterial soaps, body washes, toothpastes and in some cosmetics. You may also find triclosan in some clothing, kitchenware, furniture and toys. If you wonder what triclosan is used for, well you can say to stop bacteria on an equipment from being able to affect human or to ensure the product used is free from germs. It also helps to prevent odours caused by germs.

Triclosan is also used in healthcare and medical devices. This includes medical devices such as ureteral stents, surgical sutures and even prevention of graft infection. Triclosan is also used in urinary Foley catheters to inhibit growth of bacteria and controlled encrustation or blockage of catheters. Triclosan is also used as surgical scrubs and in hand washing or body wash to eradicate methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from carriers prior to surgery. MRSA is a bacterial infection that is difficult to treat due to its resistance towards some antibiotics.

Triclosan works by inhibiting the growth of several types of bacteria and even fungal species. Triclosan when used at low concentration has shown proof of inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and with high concentration, it is able to instantly kill the microorganisms. Triclosan binds to the active site of a bacterial enzyme known as enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase. This will lead to the impairment of production of bacterial lipids that is important for bacteria to strive.

Despite triclosan seeming like a good chemical in eradicating bacterial infection, there are many concerns over its usage. In some short-term animal studies, it has been shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan is associated with decrease of thyroid hormone level. It is true that these studies may not have great significance to humans but it is enough to raise concern over the usage of triclosan. Another study also shows the increased possibility of antibiotics resistance when exposed to triclosan. This means that the widespread use of agents such as triclosan can possibly increase global spread of antibiotic resistance due to the modification and/or amplification of the target by the chemical. Last but not least, the way triclosan actually affects humans. It is true that triclosan that enters the human body can be eliminated from the body through urination which makes triclosan not stay in the human body for a long time. However, direct contact with triclosan has been associated with some skin irritation and contact dermatitis. One study on animals has found that there is potential of developing skin cancer after long-term exposure to triclosan.

 Beside the effect triclosan has on humans, there are also concerns of triclosan towards the environment. Triclosan has been proven many times to kill algae, crustaceans and fish. This is supported by the extensive use in large quantities of the triclosan that ends up in the sewage system. Triclosan not only ends up in the sewer as it can end forestry and non-agricultural settings. This can lead to exposure of plants, soil-dwelling organisms and predators over multiple generations towards the triclosan. Biosolids that are derived from triclocarban and triclosan have adverse effects on the plant’s yields as a crop. Study shows that exposure of mass lettuce plants to such soil have caused significant decrease in the crops yielded.

Now that you have known the good and the bad of triclosan, you probably know what now then. In December 2017, the US FDA issued a final rule regarding certain over-the-counter healthcare antiseptic products. This results in companies unable to use triclosan and other 23 active ingredients without premarket review due to insufficient data on its effectiveness and safety. The FDA also issues a final rule on over-the-counter hand sanitizers and will continue to review the three active ingredients commonly used in hand sanitizers.

 Again, what can you do with all this information? You may want to avoid products that contain triclosan. It is best to choose safer products available in the market. It is better to use plain soap and water to wash hands. Even the FDA found no evidence that antibacterial washes with triclosan are more effective than the standard hand washing. Maybe you would want to just stick with alcohol-based hand sanitizers too instead of the more powerful antibacterial agents.