The last few years have seen a rash of antibacterial products in the US and Japan, from soaps and lotions to keyboards and steering wheels. There's no evidence that they keep you healthier. But there is reason to worry that they are contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria -- those so-called "superbugs" that resist medical treatment. Some researchers believe they may also be contributing to an increase in asthma and allergies.
So, there is such a thing as being too clean after all.
Face it -- you neither can nor should eliminate germs from your life. In fact, you are currently living on excellent terms with hordes of them. Some perform useful functions, like assisting with your digestion. Others go about their business without giving help or harm. All try to hold their ground against newcomers, some of which would surely be less benign. And even the baddies may do some good by triggering your immune system to work the way it should. (This is especially true for kids.)
Which is not to say that some germs aren't very dangerous. Do take ordinary precautions against them. And don't forget the most basic of all: wash your hands! Not with antibacterial soap (unless you're caring for someone who's ill), but with regular soap and warm, running water. And when you do it, do it right. Rub all parts of your hands vigorously for 15 seconds or more (including the backs, fingers and wrists). The important times to wash are:
On a day-to-day basis, that's probably the single most useful thing you can do to keep from spreading, and catching, germs. As for antibacterial products -- forget about them.
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For related information, see these pages:
HANDWASHING: WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT
DANGERS OF THE CLEAN CRAZE
THE CHALLENGE OF ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE
GLOSSARY OF ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE TERMS
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