Antibacterial or antimicrobial?

By: September 2nd, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: Are we required to have antimicrobial soap in our patient rooms or can we have antibacterial soap?

A: According to the “Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings,” developed by the CDC there is no requirement for antimicrobial soap in patient rooms. Traditional antibacterial soaps are sufficient in promoting proper hand hygiene.

The idea is to get staff members to wash their hands, and they are more likely to do that using soap that is easy on their hands. According to the CDC guideline, “Irritation associated with antimicrobial soaps may be caused by the antimicrobial agent or by other ingredients of the formulation. Affected persons often complain of a feeling of dryness or burning; skin that feels ‘rough;’ and erythema, scaling, or fissures.”

Simply put, we don’t care if the germs go down the drain dead or alive; we just want them off our hands. I know of some facilities that use regular soap and others that want to use antimicrobial soap and I can’t say that one necessarily has better outcomes than the other.

I would suggest consulting the healthcare workers who use the product on an everyday basis. If the majority prefers one kind of soap over another, consider making the change, but there is no requirement either way.

For some related hand hygiene downloads such as “Hand Hygiene Data Collection Worksheet,” or “Hand Hygiene Technique with Alcohol-based Formulation” visit the Tools page under Infection Control.


The author needs to remember that we have a good concern relating to bacteria developing resistance from antibiotics. Bacterial exposed to antimicrobials and antibacterials,with the exception of Alcohol, may develope resistance. Plain soap, the milder the better, is all that is needed. Primary ingredient for soap is a surfactant that assists in washing the bacteria off the skin.

Excellent site, where exactly did you came up that information in that page? I am pleased I found it however, ill be checking back again soon to see what other posts you have.


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