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Name: Jalal
Status: student
Grade: n/a
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: Saudi Arabia
Date: Winter 2011-2012


Question:
Is disinfectant periodically switching important not to allow any bacterial resistance? I meant if i apply different compositions of hand disinfectats as an example will help more or to use the same disinfectant always although safe ??



Replies:
Assuming they're used correctly, resistance is generally not an issue for soaps or alcohol based hand cleansers.

For example, the properties of soaps are very different from antibiotics. Soaps have a very broad mechanism of action. The surfactants disrupt cell membranes on multiple fronts, all at the same time. This makes it very unlikely that there will be any survivors to "pass on their good genes".

Antibiotics, on the other hand, target very specific chemical pathways. A simple mutation is all it takes for an organism to defeat the antibiotic in relatively few generations.

Antibacterial soaps have become very popular of late. These are soaps infused with an antimicrobial (basically an antibiotic), like the material triclosan. Companies frequently tout these products as being value-added and more effective than soap alone. This claim is very dubious. Long after you wash with these products, residues can persist. Continual selection pressure can actually foster resistance and diminish the usefulness of triclosan in legitimate situations!

Dr. Tim Durham Undergraduate Studies & University Colloquium Department of Biological Sciences



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