Should doctors and other hospital staff be washing their hands with yogurt rather than antibacterial soap? This odd-sounding suggestion was part of a recent discussion paper by Professor Mark Spigelman of the UCL Centre for Infectious Diseases and International Health. In the paper, Spigelman questioned the current practice of using broad-spectrum antibacterial agents on hospital staff’s hands and patients’ wounds, often stripping them of beneficial bacteria only to lay a welcome mat for potentially deadly superbugs.
“Any student who has grown bacteria in a lab will know that they generally do not grow on top of one another,” he pointed out. “So when we wash our hands, we could actually be killing off harmless [normal] bacteria to the extent that we leave space for other bacteria, such as MRSA [Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus known as superbugs] strains, to settle.”