Why Using Hand Sanitizer Isn’t Always Good?

4 mins read

Hand sanitizers are among the common products that are found in the grocery carts. Many people use hand sanitizers regularly when they touch many things in their daily lives, especially if they regularly shake hand with dozens of people each day. Sanitizers can be available in small bottles, so we could put them in our purse or pocket for immediate use. A good hand sanitizer should be able to kill bacteria and other pathogen immediately. In the modern society, there’s already a good awareness of how small organisms are able to cause various diseases and illnesses. The situation can be bad compared to a few decades ago, because the frequent uses of antibiotics have made new strains of bacteria to become more resistant. Awareness for hygiene is good, but paranoia is not. Hand sanitizers are useful products, but they should be used when necessary, especially when everyone around seems to be wheezing and sneezing due to the annual winter flu outbreak. There’s a common argument that frequent uses of hand sanitizers may inhibit the development of immunity among children. Adaptive immunity is something that needs to be established, so children are able to develop their own immune system to deal with various parasitic microorganisms.

In fact, it can be considered good to let children get sick by exposing them to relatively mild bacteria. Again, it is debatable whether frequent uses hand sanitizers can really have an effect on the adaptive immunity development among children. We should check the actual composition of hand sanitizers. The active compound in hand sanitizers is triclosan. It’s an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral substance that can reduce the incidence of illnesses. There’s no real evidence that triclosan is completely safe for prolonged use by people. Tests on animals showed that exposure to triclosan have caused alteration in hormone regulation, although things that happen on animals don’t have the same effect on people. In reality, triclosan isn’t really required and manufacturers can use alcohol as alternative germ-killing substance. Hand sanitizers can be highly effective if they contain at least 60 percent ethanol. Pure ethyl alcohol or ethanol is a common type of alcohol that’s used to sanitize objects including our hands. They seem to be highly effective, even against bacteria that have developed strong resistance against antibiotics.

There’s a concern that regular uses of ethanol on our hand may also eradicate microbiome or good bacteria on our skin. If they are wiped away, the floral balance on our skin can be affected and for this reason, we should avoid overdoing on the use of ethanol and other sanitizing substances. Alcohol could also cause our skin to get drier and there could be an effect on our lipid barrier, which is the protective compound layer of our skin. This layer is needed to provider partial immunity and barrier to our skin. If there’s high level of ethanol on the hand sanitizer product, we should make sure that it also includes moisturizers, which can prevent excessive dryness on our skin.