An antibacterial cleanser is a product which is designed to remove bacteria from the skin, reducing the risk of disease. Many soaps are naturally antibacterial, and they can be modified with additional ingredients which target bacteria. In addition to antibacterial cleansers which are designed to be used during washing, it is also possible to find hand wipes which are used to sanitize when water is not readily available, along with antibacterial products designed for use in household cleaning.
Antibacterial cleansers can be liquid, gel, or foam soaps, with some companies making antibacterial bar soaps or specialized antibacterial rinses. These cleansers are often positioned in bathrooms for washing hands after using the toilet, and they may also be used in hospitals and medical clinics for the purpose of washing between patients. Many come in dispensers which work automatically, so that people do not spread bacteria by handling soap dispensers.
In addition to being used on the hands, antibacterial cleansers can also be used for face washes, with some people using antibacterial face washes for acne prevention, to reduce the numbers of bacteria on the skin. Specially formulated antibacterial face wash is mild so that it does not damage the delicate skin of the face. The whole body can potentially be washed in an antibacterial cleanser, and these cleansers are sometimes used for wound management at home, with people cleaning the sites of recent injuries with an antibacterial cleanser to prevent the onset of infection.
Drug stores tend to carry a range of antibacterial cleansers, and it is also possible to receive prescriptions for stronger versions of over the counter products. Prescription cleansers tend to have greater antibacterial powers, and they are prescription-only to ensure that they are used appropriately. Prescription products come with detailed directions about proper use and handling, and it is important to follow these directions to ensure that the cleanser is effective.
Some concerns have been raised about the widespread use of antibacterial cleansers. These products can increase antibiotic resistance, by killing off bacteria which are vulnerable to antibiotics so that stronger bacteria can multiply without competition. Some contain chemicals which can be harmful to human health, which can be a problem for people using large volumes of antibacterial cleansers, or for people who use such cleansers around open wounds and sores. Old-fashioned hot water, soap, and vigorous scrubbing are often just as effective as an antibacterial cleanser, without raising the specter of antibiotic resistance.