This month of love, I decided to show some love in a different form – information, vital information. This topic was borne out of an Instagram live session, held on my page on the ‘Dangers of DIY Cosmetics'(I invited you o). You can stay tuned to my Instagram for future sessions like that.
One of the issues with DIY cosmetics stems from poor preservation and consequent contamination and infection. Another one is the mixing of tube ointments into cream bases, shea butter and any other carrier in use today. In case you did not know this, many steroidal tube creams are topical antibiotics. Most people use these tube creams to lighten their skin and not even for treatment of skin infections.
What is antibiotic resistance? According to the Center for Disease Control, Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply, causing more harm.
The only thing worse than DIY cosmetics is DIY prescriptions, which is the indiscriminate ingestion or topical application of antibiotics. In some cases of acne caused by infections, certain antibiotics can be prescribed for treatment. This has led many people, especially Nigerians who are already known for self medicating, to start taking antibiotics internally for aesthetic purposes, without directed by their physician.
I don’t do this, so it’s none of my business.
Think again. We live on earth with the rest of humanity. We interact with so many different people on a daily basis. We move from place to place, carrying different microbes with us. That is why communicable diseases,especially those that can be spread through air or touch, can humble any one regardless of class, age, gender, etc. So imagine if and when you come in contact with someone who is a carrier of a resistant strain of microorganism(s).
Do you still think it doesn’t affect you?
Think again! According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. It occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process. A growing number of infections are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them now have poor activity, leading prolonged illnesses and increased mortality.
It is particularly dangerous in health cases that may require surgery, in which the site of incision becomes infected and no antibiotics will work (think septic shock😱).
How do our actions worsen the situation?
When we take antibiotics carelessly (through oral or topical routes), do not finish our course of treatment, take the wrong dose of medication or even take the wrong treatment for the ailment, we allow microbes to evolve genetically to tolerate the antibiotics. With time, organisms that are now able to withstand antibiotics can infect and in some cases, kill.
So please, spread the word, even if you do not do these. As cliche as this sounds, being your brother’s keeper is highly required in this case.
What is being done about this?
Quite a lot actually! A lot of research goes into discovering new synthetic and phytochemicals that show antibiotic properties.
Trivia: Did you know that some of the antibiotic products on the market were derived from plants and marine organisms? This was actually my thesis during my MSc. at the University College, London. I worked with about 5 plants, establishing their antimicrobial activities against some resistant microbial strains, isolated from patients at the University College Hospital. I also investigated the resistance modification and inhibition of the transfer of resistance gene to other microbes.
But the process is painfully slow!
And rightly so. It can take over five years to approve a pharmaceutical product. There are so many stages of in vitro and in vivo analysis, as well as clinical trials in different phases. Of course, they need to ascertain the safety and efficacy, and this requires a lot of data and time to collate the data.
In the meantime,
Look out for yourself and those around you by only using antibiotic products when you need to; at the right dose and for appropriate duration. That means, no more using or prescribing them to others with no basis or medical clearance.
- WHO website
- CDC website
- Antibiotic Resistance notes and articles by my MSc. supervisor, Dr. Paul Stapleton (School of Pharmacy, University College London).