The UTI-Triclosan Connection

We have reported on previous scientific studies linking recurring UTIs and nine chemicals of concern used as food additives. This time the link comes from a commonly used additive in personal care products: Triclosan.  If you suffer from recurring urinary tract infections that do not respond to antibiotics, the culprit may be Triclosan in your personal care products and cosmetics.  Scientists have just discovered that the additive Triclosan (used in products for its anti-bacterial properties) may inadvertently drive bacteria into a state in which they are able to tolerate normally lethal concentrations of antibiotics — including those antibiotics that are commonly used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs).  More specifically, Triclosan exposure limits the body’s ability to respond to antibiotic treatment for urinary tract infection. In short, antibiotics can’t do their job with Triclosan around.

Where is Triclosan found? 

One place that Triclosan is found in abundance these days is the human body. The controversial pesticide lingers in the body and in the environment for a long time. Scientists know that right around 75 percent of adults in the United States have detectable levels of Triclosan in their urine. Unfortunately, as stated earlier, the pervasiveness of Triclosan is dangerous because it has been found to run interference with the effectiveness of antibiotic treatments in humans.

After several years of medical experts and scientists arguing that Triclosan was harmful because it interfered with antibiotic treatments, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally agreed Triclosan was useless in antibacterial soaps and conceded it ‘may’ also be responsible for human resistance to antibiotics, and in 2017 they banned its use from soaps.  However Triclosan is still widely used by manufacturers with the intention of reducing or preventing bacterial growth; the additive Triclosan is in toothpaste, mouthwash, toothbrushes, cosmetics, clothing, baby toys and even credit cards.


While consumers will not know every place Triclosan is hiding (like credit cards), many products will list Triclosan on the product labels. To minimize your exposure to this chemical of concern read the ingredients labels carefully and say “no” to those products that contain Triclosan.



Journal Reference: Corey Westfall, Ana Lidia Flores-Mireles, John Isaac Robinson, Aaron J.L. Lynch, Scott Hultgren, Jeffrey P. Henderson, Petra Anne Levin. The widely used antimicrobial triclosan induces high levels of antibiotic tolerance in vitro and reduces antibiotic efficacy up to 100-fold in vivo. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2019; DOI: 10.1128/AAC.02312-18