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Journal Quantum Jim's Journal: Question: Soap After Sports - Antibacterial or Regular? 9

Got a little rant and a question for anyone reading. Again, a popular science article exaggerates the conclusions. A recent /. story mentioned Anti-Bacterial Soap No Better Than Plain Soap. Now most of the comments seem to sermonize against all antibacterial products. I don't completely disagree, but the article doesn't support extreme opinions. Of course, the story in question only concerned itself with one type of antibacterial soap and with one use of that soap: namely washing hands before eating food. Allison Aiello sums it up:

The soaps containing triclosan used in the community setting are no more effective than plain soap at preventing infectious illness symptoms, as well as reducing bacteria on the hands.

Now for my question. I practice Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a lot. I used to use a regular soap in the shower, but I caught some severe conjunctivitis three times in the same eye in the past six months despite trying to be clean. The pink eye was very bad, my eyelids swelled up, and the doctor needed a broad-based antibiotic to take care of them. That indicates to me that the infections were caused by bacteria - probably staph.

I am scared to death of MRSA. Now I use antibacterial Dial bar soap as well as some anti-dandruff shampoo to discourage colonies of fungi - with the intention of preventing ringworm (and dandruff I suppose). That seems to have been working better, but this article concerns me. The article didn't research body washes for athletes, but it does raise the question whether or not antibacterial soap is useful for cleaning up after practices. Which type of soap would be best for cleaning up after athletic activities and why - regular or antibacterial soap?

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Question: Soap After Sports - Antibacterial or Regular?

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  • I can't imagine Judo or Jujitsu of any type including a severe infection problem, even for the eyes. Especially if your opponents were not showing symptoms. Is there a possibility that the building you practice in was built on a landfill?
    • by tuxette ( 731067 ) *
      I can't imagine Judo or Jujitsu of any type including a severe infection problem, even for the eyes.

      You're joking, right?
  • Would anti-bacterial soap be effective against MRSA? My impression was that it tends to lead to the increase in MRSA (in others), and that it would be ineffective against it for the same reason.
    • Confused, I quickly looked up some conflicting studies. One study asserts that there is little documented benefit to antibacterial soaps ( Perencevich 2001 []), however I am suspicious of the methodology summarized. I wonder where Perencevich got his information; though, I haven't read it beyond the abstract (costs money). Other studies clearly show antibacterial soaps removing staph and other bacteria better than normal soaps (Voss 1975 [], Breneman 2000 []). I am not sure if this affects MRSA though. Aiello himself

      • My gut instinct is that antibacterial soap is kind of like heavier cars: good for the one using it, but potentially bad for the community as a whole. And, like heavier cars, there are cases where it's no better than the alternative even for the one using it. Common sense tells me (not that I'm proficient in common sense, mind you), that if a bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics it will very likely be as resistant to antibacterial soaps as to regular soaps. (I.e., the soap quality might help kill/remove

        • A car analogy, on slashdot? LOL! Good points though. I usually don't modify my behavior based on just beliefs without much good reason such as "low risk, high reward." However like you, I suspect the antibiotic isn't doing much either way TTYTT.

  • I refuse to use anti-bacterial anything; it's the day-to-day use of that kind of thing where you really don't need to use that kind of thing that makes bacteria more resistant.

    Sometimes I just rinse myself really well after a workout, sometimes I'll use some shower gel. If you feel your eyes are at risk, rinse them with warm water immediately after training.
    • Ya that's good advice about rinsing. However, a tatame is different than a household. I did a little bit of research (see my big post above). For one, I didn't find evidence that antibacterial products made much of a difference either way in the household (though misusing antibacterial prescriptions OTOH definitely could cause drug resistance). In the dojo, you are exposed to lots more germs too. I wonder if being drug resistant has a trade-off which is why it isn't common (i.e. the soap still kills 99% of
      • On a very different note, I have heard that some antibacterial products (such as soap) damage pipes or prevent clog breaking stuff from working. We got a note from our landlords about that about a year ago. I have done no research on it, and I think there might be some bad information out there, but as I'd never heard of it before, I thought I'd throw that possibility out there as well.

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27