Should I avoid products that contain triclosan?

Answer From James M. Steckelberg, M.D.

The answer is probably.

In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a rule stating that over-the-counter consumer antiseptic wash products containing many potentially harmful antibacterial active ingredients — including triclosan and triclocarban — can no longer be marketed to consumers. These products include liquid, foam and gel hand soaps, bar soaps, and body washes.

Triclosan is also added to certain clothes, cookware, furniture and toys to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination, but these products aren't regulated by the FDA.

The ruling follows recent studies that have raised questions about whether triclosan is hazardous to human health. Research has shown that triclosan:

  • Alters hormone regulation in animals
  • Might contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs
  • Might be harmful to the immune system

When you use a product containing triclosan, you can absorb a small amount through your skin or mouth. A large 2008 study, which was designed to assess exposure to triclosan in a representative sample of U.S. children and adults, found triclosan in the urine of nearly 75 percent of those tested.

Triclosan isn't an essential ingredient in many products. Triclosan added to toothpaste has been shown to help prevent gingivitis. However, there's no evidence that antibacterial soaps and body washes containing triclosan are more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain illnesses, according to the FDA.

Many manufacturers have started removing this ingredient from their products. If you're concerned about triclosan, look for products that don't list triclosan in their ingredients.

March 09, 2017 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. 3 ways to get closer to achieving your goals
  2. Make healthy habits stick
  3. 5 do's and don'ts for staying motivated
  4. 3 ways to avoid secondhand smoke
  5. 7 signs and symptoms not to ignore
  6. Energy management
  7. Animal bites: Do you need a tetanus shot?
  8. Are you doing everything you can to stay healthy?
  9. Belching, intestinal gas, gas pains and bloating
  10. Bone health tips
  11. Cancer-prevention strategies
  12. Cellphones and cancer
  13. Colon cancer screening
  14. Coronavirus disease: What is it and how can I protect myself?
  15. Plastic surgery
  16. Do adults need shots?
  17. Don't save leftover pain pills
  18. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  19. Find meaning in the small things
  20. Flu Shot Prevents Heart Attack
  21. Functional fitness training
  22. Overcome obstacles to your goals
  23. Healthy holiday habits: How to get back on track
  24. Hand drying
  25. Hand-washing tips
  26. Healthy habits that boost happiness
  27. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  28. Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
  29. Home Health Hazards
  30. Brown fat
  31. How social support spurs you
  32. Break the busy cycle
  33. How well do you wash your hands?
  34. Injury Season for Snow Blowers
  35. Investing in yourself
  36. Is antibacterial soap a do or a don't?
  37. Keep the focus on your long-term vision
  38. Liposuction alternatives
  39. Lost in Space
  40. Making progress towards your goals
  41. Mammogram guidelines: What are they?
  42. Make over your mindset to make time for your health
  43. Mayo Clinic Minute: You're washing your hands all wrong
  44. Mayo Clinic Minute: How dirty are common surfaces?
  45. Measles vaccine: Can I get the measles if I've already been vaccinated?
  46. Medical family tree
  47. Infographic: Organ Donation Donate Life
  48. Infographic: Paired Donation Chain
  49. Infographic: Pancreas Kidney Transplant
  50. Personal health records
  51. Personalize your wellness journey
  52. Stick to healthy-eating goals at social gatherings
  53. Posture: Align yourself for good health
  54. Posture check: Do you stand up straight?
  55. Reach your goals, track your habits
  56. New Year's resolutions
  57. Secondhand smoke
  58. Creating a wellness vision
  59. Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting?
  60. Good posture tips
  61. Back exercises
  62. Proper lifting techniques
  63. Stop multitasking and focus
  64. Thirdhand smoke: What are the dangers?
  65. Want good health? Build a solid base
  66. The benefits of gratitude
  67. Travel Safety
  68. Using if-then statements
  69. Vaccines for adults
  70. What are superbugs?
  71. What are superbugs and how can I protect myself from infection?
  72. Air purifiers and smoke