Excessive scrubbing with harsh soaps can strip a protective layer of oil off the skin, leaving the skin barrier vulnerable to allergens, according to the UK's Telegraph.
‘We are not saying that people should not wash, but if they overdo it they can compromise the skin barrier,’ says lead researcher Professor Robin Callard.
In a related story, Medical News Today reports that antibacterial soaps may do more harm than good.
Antibacterial soaps not only kill disease-causing bacteria, but they also kill ‘good bacteria’ on the skin. Most bacteria are non-pathogenic, and they're important for the development of a healthy immune system.
Furthermore, antibacterial soaps may contribute to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Bacteria that develop resistance to antibacterial soaps may also become resistant to antibiotic medications that work similarly.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has questioned the overuse of antibacterial soap: ‘Whether applied to the skin or swallowed, it is still an antibiotic and should not be available without a prescription. Many people, especially parents, unknowingly use these products many times a day on their children. Would they be as willing to give them an oral antibiotic as often? Most people don't realize that the skin is the body's largest organ and is capable of absorbing many substances into the body.’
When it comes to hand-washing and germ reduction, regular soap and water works just as well as antibacterial soap. Just don't scrub too hard!