Triclosan in cosmetics and personal care products can increase allergy risk

November 14, 2012, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
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

Explore further: Antibacterials in personal-care products linked to allergy risk in children

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.

Related Stories

Antibacterials in personal-care products linked to allergy risk in children

June 19, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and other personal-care products may make children more prone to a wide range of food and environmental ...

Common antimicrobial inhibits immune cell function

January 6, 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 ...

Triclosan needs to be monitored

October 25, 2012
Leipzig. Researchers from Germany and Slovakia have pointed out that the chemical triclosan is one of those particularly harmful substances for the ecological status of rivers that are still not sufficiently monitored. With ...

Recommended for you

Novel genomic tools provide new insight into human immune system

January 19, 2018
When the body is under attack from pathogens, the immune system marshals a diverse collection of immune cells to work together in a tightly orchestrated process and defend the host against the intruders. For many decades, ...

Genomics reveals key macrophages' involvement in systemic sclerosis

January 18, 2018
A new international study has made an important discovery about the key role of macrophages, a type of immune cell, in systemic sclerosis (SSc), a chronic autoimmune disease which currently has no cure.

First vaccine developed against grass pollen allergy

January 18, 2018
Around 400 million people worldwide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis), with the usual symptoms of runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. In collaboration with the Viennese firm ...

Researchers discover key driver of atopic dermatitis

January 17, 2018
Severe eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is driven by an allergic reaction. In their latest study, researchers at La Jolla Institute reveal an important player that promotes ...

Who might benefit from immunotherapy? New study suggests possible marker

January 16, 2018
While immunotherapy has made a big impact on cancer treatment, the fact remains that only about a quarter of patients respond to these treatments.

Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system

January 16, 2018
system, which enables these deadly skin cancers to grow and spread.

0 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.