Yale Physician Issues Statement on Effectiveness of Antimicrobials in Soaps, Lotions and Other Products

Adding antimicrobials to consumer products such as hand lotions and soaps may not add to their effectiveness, according to Yale School of Medicine professor Myron Genel, M.D., chair of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Council on Scientific Affairs, which issued a report on antibiotics.

Genel said although more research is needed in this area, there is reason to believe that acquired resistance to antimicrobials in bacteria may predispose these organisms to resistance against therapeutic antibiotics. Antimicrobials, which kill disease-causing bacteria, are used in the hospital setting to reduce surface colonization of bacteria, and this increase in resistance may negatively impact such use.

“If there is no evidence that these agents add to the effectiveness of cleansers and there is reason to believe that they may contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance, then we need to make this statement to physicians so they can be better informed,” Genel said.

The report comes after a year of study by the AMA science staff and review by the AMA Council on Scientific Affairs. The Council issued the report in response to a request for study by the medical student section of the AMA. The report also encouraged the FDA to expedite its regulation of antimicrobial use in products for which resistance has been acquired.

“Antibiotic resistance is a major public health concern that also has to be controlled through changes in attitude toward and more judicious use of antibiotics by health care professionals and the public,” Genel said. “Until we have more research, nothing should discourage good hygiene. People should continue washing their hands to ward off germs.”

Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this

Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326