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Triclosan is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial used as an active ingredient in skin and oral care Over-the-Counter (OTC) drug products and as a preservative in water based consumer products as well as in certain specialized applications such as textiles and plastics.
In cosmetics and personal care products, Triclosan can be used as the preservative in water based formulations of aftershave lotions, bath products, cleansing products, foot sprays, hair conditioners, makeup products, powders, shampoos, shaving products, skin care products, and suntan products.
As a bacteriostatic agent against body odor causing bacteria, Triclosan can be found in deodorants, foot sprays, body sprays, and personal cleanliness products. As an antibacterial agent, Triclosan is found in toothpaste, antibacterial handwash and body wash and in topical antiseptic products for wound care.
As an antibacterial ingredient Triclosan combats gram-negative bacteria, as well as the odor-causing gram-positive bacteria. As a material preservative, Triclosan is extremely effective in slowing or halting bacterial growth thereby controlling the growth of odor-causing bacteria and preventing bacterial degradation; thus extending the life of everyday products.
View more information about how preservatives protect cosmetics and personal care products.
Triclosan has been shown to be effective in reducing and controlling bacterial contamination on the hands and in treated products.
In addition to its use in cosmetics and personal care products, Triclosan is added to consumer products that are often exposed to excessive bacteria, such as athletic wear, socks, and cutting boards or in products that are difficult to wash, such as trash cans, plastic shower curtains and other plastic items.
Using the New Drug Application (NDA) process for OTC drug approval, a company submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the safety and efficiacy of OTC toothpaste for gum disease. The FDA approved the use of Triclosan with fluoride in a toothpaste that helps prevent tooth decay, plaque and gingivitis when used as directed.
The FDA permits the use of Triclosan in antibacterial soaps and as an antiseptic drug preparation.
Additional approvals permit the use of Triclosan in antibacterial surgical sutures and in anti-bacterial pre-operative mouth cleansers to prepare for dental work.
The safety of Triclosan has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel considered all new data including the potential for Triclosan to cause endocrine disrupting effects and concluded that Triclosan is safe for use in cosmetics.
The European Commission has evaluated the safety of Triclosan and permits its use as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products at a maximum concentration of 0.3%.
The CIR Expert Panel considered a number of issues concerning the safe use of Triclosan including, carcinogenicity, potential endocrine disruption and the potential to increase bacterial resistance.
The CIR Expert Panel considered the non-genotoxic mechanism of Triclosan-induced liver tumor formation in mice not relevant to humans. The CIR Expert Panel noted, that although some studies showed Triclosan had the potential to interact with the endocrine system, no adverse consequences of those interactions have been observed other studies.
Review of studies bacterial resistance surveillance studies indicated that Triclosan has not been shown to increase bacterial resistance under current use conditions.
The CIR Expert Panel considered estimated exposure to Triclosan at reported use concentrations in multiple cosmetics and personal care products.
This estimated exposure was found to be well below the doses found not to have any effects in animal studies.
The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers stated that Triclosan, under current conditions of use, is safe as a preservative in cosmetics products taking into account the risk of resistance by certain microorganisms.
SCCNFP opinion concerning Triclosan:
Triclosan is listed in the Cosmetics Directive of the European Union and may be used as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products at a maximum concentration of 0.3% (see Annex VI).
Health Canada permits Triclosan to be used at concentrations equal to or less than 0.03% in mouthwash and 0.3% in other cosmetic products.
More information about Triclosan.
Find more information about Endocrine Disruptors
Triclosan is an aromatic organic compound. In cosmetics and personal care products, Triclosan functions as a preservative and deodorant agent.
At in-use concentrations Triclosan acts as a biocide, with multiple cytoplasmic and membrane targets.
However, at lower concentrations Triclosan appears bacteriostatic and is seen to target bacteria mainly by inhibiting fatty acid synthesis, which is necessary for reproducing and building bacterial cell membranes.
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