Triclosan in cosmetics and personal care products can increase allergy risk

Triclosan in cosmetics and personal care products can increase allergy risk
Credit: colourbox.com

Triclosan - an antibacterial chemical found in toothpaste and other products - can contribute to an increased risk of allergy development in children. This comes from the Norwegian Environment and Childhood Asthma Study, in which the Norwegian Institute of Public Health is involved. Similar results are reported in the USA.

Triclosan has been in use for decades, but was recently associated with allergies in children in an American study, the National Health and (NHANES). The new Norwegian study found similar associations between allergies and triclosan levels measured in children's urine.

The study found that triclosan levels measured in urine were associated with elevated levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and rhinitis (blocked nose/) in 10 year-olds.

623 urine samples were collected and measured at the in Atlanta, USA. Approximately 50 per cent of the Norwegian children had detectable levels of triclosan, while 80 per cent of American children had measurable levels. The children had approximately the same amount of triclosan exposure.

Triclosan can change the bacterial flora on the skin, in the mouth and in the intestines. A change in the bacterial composition of "good" bacteria can cause an increased risk of developing allergies (). Therefore, increased use of triclosan and antibacterial products has generally been associated with an increased incidence of allergies.

Reduce consumption

For many years, the in Norway have called for a reduction in the use of antibacterial products to prevent the development of .

In a study of triclosan use in Norway in 2001, it was found that 85 per cent of the total amount of triclosan came from cosmetic products, of which 75 per cent were toothpaste. Since this study, triclosan has been removed from a variety of products.

The extent to which Norwegian children are exposed to triclosan is today uncertain. In the USA, where they have annual sampling and monitoring of chemical exposure, there is little evidence that exposure to triclosan is being reduced.

Facts about triclosan:

  • used to prevent bacterial growth
  • does not work against all types of bacteria
  • added mostly to cosmetic products such as toothpaste, deodorant and soap
  • also added to kitchen utensils and textiles
  • little triclosan is absorbed through the skin
  • significant absorption through the mucous membranes in the mouth (toothpaste)
  • has been in use for over 40 years in some products
  • from animal experiments we know that triclosan acts to reinforce the development of Immunoglobulin (IgE) towards allergens

More information: Bertelsen RJ, Longnecker MP, Løvik M, Calafat AM, Carlsen K-H, London SJ, Lødrup Carlsen KC. Triclosan exposure and allergic sensitization in Norwegian children. Allergy 2012; DOI: 10.1111/all.12058.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Common antimicrobial inhibits immune cell function

Jan 06, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Triclosan, a common antibacterial agent found in many hand soaps and other products, is known to have the added benefit of alleviating allergic skin conditions such as eczema. In a study recently published ...

Study suggests that being too clean can make people sick

Nov 29, 2010

Young people who are overexposed to antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may suffer more allergies, and exposure to higher levels of Bisphenol A among adults may negatively influence the immune system, a new University ...

Recommended for you

Study unlocks basis of key immune protein's two-faced role

Nov 26, 2014

A Brigham and Women's Hospital-led team has identified a long sought-after partner for a key immune protein, called TIM-3, that helps explain its two-faced role in the immune system—sometimes dampening it, other times stimulating ...

Profilin can induce severe food-allergic reactions

Nov 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Profilins are complete food allergens in food-allergic patient populations that are exposed to high levels of grass pollen, according to a study published in the December issue of Allergy.

Structured education program beneficial for anaphylaxis

Nov 21, 2014

(HealthDay)—A structured education intervention improves knowledge and emergency management for patients at risk for anaphylaxis and their caregivers, according to a study published online Nov. 19 in Allergy.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.