Many advances have been made in the area of antibacterial products to make them effective in destroying pathogens, which is an infectious agent. The desire to prevent infections like MRSA, staph, and other types of bacteria has caused these products to be in high demand. Antibacterial products come in every shape and size for direct use on humans to use on surfaces that they can touch.
There are expensive “designer” products and simple inexpensive options like bleach (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) to disinfect and kill bacteria (Guidelines for the Use of Chlorine Bleach as a Sanitizer in Food Processing Operations). That is the good news, but the bad news is that these products cannot distinguish between good bacteria and bad bacteria so it kills both without regard to their part in overall health. Some bacteria are essential to both good health and a strong immune system so when they are caught up in the killing of the harmful bacteria it can create additional health problems.
Good and Bad Bacteria
When a “good” person looses his or her life it is often referred to as murder. When someone “bad” looses his or her life it is often referred to as a killing. In the world of bacteria, there are both good and bad bacteria. The good kind promotes health and the bad kind interferes with it. Recently the good bacteria are getting some attention through advertisements that inform on the benefits of the healthy bacteria in the digestive system. These are some of the other benefits of beneficial bacteria:
- Keeps bad bacteria in check
- Increase resistance to illness
- Decreased infections
- Bacterial flora balance
- Slows aging
- Efficient digestion
One of the high profile examples of when good bacteria are destroyed along with bad bacteria is the current problem with bacteria that is resistant to common antibiotics like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRSA (vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). These bacteria evolved from improper and ineffective use of antibiotics. The same can occur, but at a different level, with antibacterial products.
Antibacterial Products and Bacteria
When antibacterial products are used on the skin and on surfaces the good bacteria are also killed. It is necessary to disinfect surfaces to prevent the spreading of MRSA and other harmful bacteria and viruses. Some people believe simply washing thoroughly with soap and water is sufficient while others choose to use fancy antibacterial products. When not cleaned properly the following occurs:
- Strong bacteria survive
- Beneficial bacteria are murdered
- Resistant bacteria evolve
Proper cleaning, isolating the infection, and proper disposal of infected material will all prevent the spread of disease and illness. After antibacterial treatment the good bacteria must be reintroduced and allowed to flourish.
During everyday contact with the world everyone is exposed to bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. All of these are present in the normal flora of skin but illness and infection do not result when it is kept in balance. Natural immunity to some bacteria is developed during exposure similar to how immunizations work when a virus or bacteria is injected to stimulate an immune response.
Antibacterial products have their place but should be used sparingly and only when necessary. Replenishing of good bacteria can be done with probiotics to keep everything in balance.