Antibacterial wash products have come under scrutiny as potential contributors to the problem of antibiotic resistance. This study investigated the extent of, and relationship between, antibiotic and antibacterial resistance in human skin bacteria isolated from individuals in the home environment, relative to their routine use or non-use of antibacterial hand and bath soaps, and other antibacterial body wash products.
Qualified study participants (n=210) were randomly selected from qualified applicant pools and comprised three groups of 70 each: 1) those that routinely used wash products containing triclosan (TCS); 2) those that frequently used products containing triclocarban (TCC); and 3) a control group that used no antibacterial wash products. A 64 cm2 composite swab sample was collected from each participant’s forearm skin and processed for coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (CNS) species and S. aureus (SA). Standard antibiotic and antibacterial minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) testing was performed on all 317 isolates (301 CNS; 16 SA).
There was no increased antibiotic resistance in Staphylococcus isolates from groups regularly using wash products containing triclocarban (TCC) or triclosan (TCS), as compared with participants using wash products containing no TCC or TCS. Additionally, none of the 317 study isolates were resistant to vancomycin, and the rate of methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) detected in the TCS/TCC groups was less than that in the non-user group, and appreciably less than that reported in the literature for both hospital inpatient and outpatient isolates of SA.
Additionally, the data showed a definitive lack of antibiotic/antibacterial cross-resistance when the most resistant staphylococci in each category were comparatively assessed across the three participant groups.
This randomized community study of resident skin Staphylococcus has shown no increased antibiotic resistance in participant groups regularly using wash products containing triclocarban (TCC) or triclosan (TCS), as compared with participants using wash products containing no TCC or TCS. These study results confirm similar findings from recent assessments of antibiotic and antibacterial resistance in home environments (Aiello et al, 2005; Cole et al, 2003), and further discount the speculative claim that the use of antibacterial wash products contribute to the selection and propagation of drug-resistant bacteria on human skin.
Cole – Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Addison – Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
Dulaney – Applied Environmental, Inc., Cary NC
Leese – Restoration Sciences, Cary, NC