Did the FDA accidentally CURE allergies?
Could the FDA’s ban on antibacterial soap stop the cause of allergies?
Recently the FDA banned the sale of antibacterial soaps containing certain chemicals, stating the risk of using these antibacterial soaps outweighed the potential benefit.
Specifically, the decision was due to certain chemicals (19 overall, including Triclosan, used in liquid soap, and triclocarban in bar soaps) causing health and environmental problems.
This decision will definitely help people with allergic contact dermatitis. But did the government accidentally help prevent the cause of allergies?
The Biggest Cause of Allergies: Hygiene Hypothesis
The current theory on the cause of allergies is summarized by the hygiene hypothesis:
Hygiene Hypothesis: The immune system’s IgE component is designed to fight worms/parasites.
As our society has become “cleaner” (through the use of sanitation, antibacterial soap, etc) the IgE immune system’s need to fight worms/parasites has lessened.
As a result, it’s started to “fight” pollen, pets, foods and other triggers causing allergies.
So the use of antibacterial soaps might be a cause of allergies!
Is the FDA Ban on Hand sanitizers the solution to the cause of allergies?
I could argue, based on the Hygiene Hypothesis cause of allergies, that banning antibacterial soap is a step in the right direction to reduce allergies!
But realistically, this is probably going to have minimal impact.
Two of the best studies on the cause of allergies shows:
- Children raised on a farm or in a rural environment have fewer allergies then those raised in/near cities.
- People in less developed countries have fewer allergies then those in more developed countries.
So the FDA’s antibacterial soap ban is probably not the actual cure for allergies, as the cause of allergies is probably more deeply rooted in the cleanliness of modern society. Still, it couldn’t hurt!
Can you prevent allergies right now?
I get asked this a lot, and the answer is… maybe!
While I can’t guarantee prevention of allergies, there are certain steps that you can take to help statistically reduce your chance of developing allergies:
Don’t live in an overly clean environment
- Remove/reduce use of antibacterial soap
- Remove/reduce overuse of antibacterial cleaning solutions/counter wipes
- Note: I’m not saying to be filthy. But if being overly clean is a possible cause of allergies, then reducing this should help prevent allergies
Spend time outside/away from the city
- Again, this is somewhat of a stretch but we know living in a rural environment helps prevent allergies
- So spending time in a similar environment might help
- Similar to antibacterial soap, we tend to overuse antibiotics
- There is some evidence that the cause of allergies is a reduction in bacterial exposure
- In general, if your child gets a cold/flu, wait 10-14 days before asking for an antibiotic (side benefit: during the first 10-14 days, most colds/flus are viral so an antibiotic wouldn’t help anyway)
Early exposure to pets
- There is evidence that a child born into a house with pets is less likely to develop allergies.
- So early exposure to pets can help reduce the cause of allergies
These are the easiest 4 steps. There are more possible ways we can reduce your child’s chance of getting allergies, but I’d need more detailed information about your situation. If you want, click here and fill out these 5 questions and I should be able to help even more!
Antibacterial Soap as a Cause of Allergies
After reading this article, I hope that you have an appreciation for how antibacterial soap has a role in the cause of allergies (through the hygiene hypothesis).
I don’t think that it’s time to declare an end to the war on allergies. But hopefully you have a slightly better understanding on the cause of allergies and how becoming a less antibacterial soap/product society might help.
If you have any thoughts, questions or want to further this discussion please leave a comment below or on my Facebook page.
And as always, if you would like more personalized advice, please just email me. I’m always happy to help!