Do You Stop to Think About the Drawbacks of Using Hand Sanitizers?
We know they are everywhere - and it is hard to avoid them - but could they be causing you more harm than good?
In fact some eight years ago, we wrote a piece here about hand sanitizers and took the opportunity of giving you a recipe to make your own more natural version.
Hand sanitizers are almost too easy to use
They are quick, portable and all too convenient, coming in gel, foam or liquid solutions. You even feel clean after using them with their cool tingling sensation. But they come with their own set of problems.
Often with ethyl alcohol as an active ingredient, they also include water, fragrance and glycerin.
Where alcohol is not used, they contain an antibiotic compound known as triclosan or triclorcarban.
Five drawbacks of using hand sanitizers
1. Alcohol poisoning. Although those sanitizers with alcohol as an ingredient may seem the safer option, it has been known for people looking for an alcoholic fix to actually drink hand sanitizer and to be hospitalized with alcohol poisoning. So it is best to be aware of this possibility. A few squirts of hand sanitizer can be equal to a couple of shots of hard liquor. Of course it could also be ingested by young children in error and not just those looking for alcohol.
2. Antibiotic resistance. The presence of triclosan can contribute to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Using hand sanitizers may actually lower your resistance to diseases by killing the good bacteria which would have helped protect against bad bacteria. Overexposure to antibiotics or improper antibiotic use can lead to bacterial resistance, making it more difficult or even impossible to treat.
3. Hormone disruption. Triclosan can also lead to hormonal disruptions, causing bacteria to adapt to its antimicrobial properties and creating in turn more antibiotic-resistant strains.
4. Harming the immune system. Triclosan can also be the culprit here by compromising the immune system, making people more likely to suffer from allergies and more vulnerable to the toxic chemical Bisphenol A (found in plastics).
5. Fragrance is another area of concern. Hand sanitizers are sometimes scented, meaning they are then likely to contain toxic chemicals. For example, synthetic fragrances contain phthalates, which are endocrine disrupters that mimic hormones and could alter genital development. Parabens is another toxic chemical found in many skincare products and used to to preserve other ingredients and extend a product's shelf life.
The safer option
It is always safer and more gentle to wash your hands with soap and water if you possibly can.
And here is how to wash your hands in the most hygienic way...
Forget about hand sanitizers, using a bar of soap to wash your hands has been found to be the safest way. A study (many years ago) found that, even when participants' hands were contaminated with bacteria such as staphylococcus and E.coli, while some bacteria remained on the bars of soap after use, it was found to be harmless and did not transfer on to the next person using the soap.
This was in direct contrast to another study carried out at the University of Arizona in 2011 when researchers found that liquid soap dispensers could be breeding grounds for bacteria, remaining on the hands after washing.
Wash you hands in hot or cold water (taking some twenty seconds to complete the task) rubbing your palms and the backs of your hands as well as in between the fingers and up to the wrists. All the time, you are using a good lather from your bar of soap. Rinse off with some water and dry gently on a soft towel.
And once your have washed your hands, add a few drops of our Simply Hand Oil to nourish and protect them.
5 things to know about triclosan. (2019).
fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-triclosan. (Accessed, 10 May 2021).
Carey DE, et al. (2015). The impact of triclosan on the spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment.
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295542/. (Accessed, 10 May 2021).
Dry skin relief from COVID-19 handwashing. (2021).
aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/coronavirus-handwashing. (Accessed, 10 May 2021).
Gold NA, et al. (2020). Alcohol sanitizer.
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513254/. (Accessed, 10 May 2021).