Should You Use Antibacterial Soap on Your Feet?

Washing your feet is an important part of maintaining good hygiene and preventing foot odor. Many people reach for antibacterial soap when washing their feet, believing it will provide extra protection against germs and bacteria. But is antibacterial soap actually necessary for washing your feet? Here is what you need to know about using antibacterial soap on your feet.

What is Antibacterial Soap?

Antibacterial soap contains chemical ingredients like triclosan or triclocarban which are added specifically to kill bacteria. Regular soap works by mechanically removing dirt, germs and bacteria when you wash with it. But antibacterial soap contains these extra antibacterial ingredients which disrupt the structure and function of bacterial cells, preventing them from growing and reproducing.

The Benefits of Using Antibacterial Soap on Your Feet

There are some potential benefits to using antibacterial soap on your feet:

  • Kills germs – By disrupting the bacterial cell structure, antibacterial ingredients in soap can help get rid of bacteria that regular soap may miss. This may help prevent infection, especially if you have any cuts or sores on your feet.
  • Prevents foot odor – Washing with antibacterial soap can eliminate odor-causing bacteria on your feet and prevent future foot odor issues. This may be helpful if you are prone to smelly feet.
  • Fights athlete’s foot – The fungal infection known as athlete’s foot can be prevented and treated by washing with antibacterial soap. The ingredients in the soap can kill off the fungus.
  • Provides peace of mind – For some people, using antibacterial soap provides a mental benefit and peace of mind knowing they are using a product specifically designed to kill germs and bacteria.

The Potential Risks

However, there are also some potential downsides to using antibacterial soap on your feet too frequently:

  • Skin dryness – The antibacterial agents used in this type of soap can strip away oils from your skin. This can leave your feet feeling dry and cracked.
  • Irritation – Some people may develop contact dermatitis, rashes or irritation from using antibacterial soaps, especially those with sensitive skin.
  • Alters healthy skin bacteria – Too much antibacterial soap can indiscriminately kill off both good and bad bacteria on the skin. This can disrupt the normal microbial balance of your skin.
  • Bacterial resistance – With repeated use, bacteria may adapt and become resistant to the antibacterial agents used in these soaps. This could make them less effective over time.
  • Environmental impact – Chemicals like triclosan and triclocarban found in antibacterial soap have raised some concerns about potential environmental impacts from water contamination.

So Should You Use It on Your Feet?

For most healthy people with intact skin, regular soap and water is sufficient for washing your feet on a day-to-day basis. But antibacterial soap may provide some extra benefit in certain circumstances when washing your feet:

  • If you have athlete’s foot, using an antibacterial soap when washing your feet may help treat the fungal infection. Make sure to use it for at least a week.
  • If you are prone to foot odor, using an antibacterial soap occasionally may help reduce bacteria that causes odors. But don’t over-use it.
  • If you have cuts, sores or irritation on your feet, antibacterial soap can help prevent infection from germs entering broken skin.
  • If you have a compromised immune system, have diabetes or poor circulation, antibacterial soap can provide extra protection against germs and bacteria when washing your feet.
  • If you have just used a public shower or pool, antibacterial soap can give you some peace of mind that you have washed away any germs you may have picked up.

The key is moderation. Antibacterial soap does not need to be part of your daily foot washing routine for most people. But it can be selectively used for circumstances when extra antibacterial action may be warranted. Be aware of any irritation or drying it may cause, and of course make sure to rinse thoroughly after use.

With some smart and occasional use, antibacterial soap can be beneficial for your feet when you want extra antibacterial power. But in general, regular soap and thorough washing is enough to keep your feet fresh, clean and healthy on a daily basis.