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Dermatologist Reveals Why Liquid, Antiseptic Soaps Are Bad For The Skin

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A Consultant Physician and Dermatologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Folakemi Cole-Adeife, says medicated, antiseptic soaps and liquids are bad for the skin, noting that they can increase the risk of developing certain skin conditions.

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According to Dr. Cole-Adeife, using antiseptic or medicated soaps and liquid sometimes can wash off the healthy bacteria needed for the skin.

Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, the dermatologist said, “I know a lot of us grew up thinking that we needed to get rid of all the germs on our skin and keep the skin as clean as possible; or that we should use a lot of antiseptic soap and antiseptic liquid, particularly for babies when they are born, but they are actually very bad for the skin.

“Our skin is like an environment of what scientists call a microbiome, an environment of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Some of them are healthy bacteria or healthy germs that can live on our skin and they have a job they are doing -think of them as tenants in a building.

“Imagine as a landlord, you chase away your tenants and you don’t lock up the doors of your property. Imagine what would happen to that property. You would have a lot of hooligans and riff-raff coming into that property and vandalising it. They are not going to pay you any rent because they are not there legally. That is what happens sometimes when we use antiseptic or medicated soaps and liquids.

“We actually wash off the healthy bacteria that are on our skin. Some of these bacteria make sure that unhealthy germs or harmful germs do not come on to the skin and when they are not there, it’s easier for harmful germs to come to your skin.

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“Also, those healthy bacteria have a way of secreting certain substances that also help the skin to function optimally and they regulate our immune system,” she said.

The expert noted that the skin has a natural immune system, adding that there are some cells on the skin that ensure unhealthy bacteria do not proliferate more than they should.

She added that the cells also ensure that the healthy bacteria do not over-proliferate.

“We have some healthy fungi that live on our skin but it is the ‘police’ on the skin that prevents them from overgrowing.

“So, sometimes, the use of antiseptic soap can disrupt this normal environment and take off healthy bacteria and give room for unhealthy bacteria to grow and keep spreading.

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“Also, most antiseptic soaps and liquids have a stronger effect on bacteria than fungi, so they kind of favour the growth of fungi on the skin. That is why we have a lot of people in our environment having fungi skin infections because when you take off all the healthy bacteria, it’s in favour of the growth of fungi. So the fungi can grow without any hindrance.

“It’s very important that we do not make the habit of using antiseptic or medicated soaps and liquids a daily affair.”

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