Note: Please use hand sanitizer during this pandemic to keep yourself safe. The purpose of this blog, ‘Why You Should Stop Using Hand Sanitizer’ is not for these unprecedented times. Sometimes, you overuse sanitizer that makes your hands dry and brings many other problems. Read the blog to know when you overuse sanitizer and how you can stop it.
Hand sanitizer is not a very old concept. Earlier, when our hands got dirty, we headed for the nearest sink. If there wasn’t one around—well, a quick wipe on the jeans would do.
In the 1990s, hand sanitizer started to become popular. Suddenly, we got a quick solution to vanish germs. Since we wanted to get things done fast by that time— it seemed the best solution.
Today, we use sanitizer everywhere- on the plane, in the car, at the playground, before touching the shopping cart, after shaking hands with someone who had a cold. It seemed there was no end to the many ways hand sanitizer could help us germ-free and healthy.
How Did Hand Sanitizer Come?
Hand sanitizers were invented by medical staff. In the hospital, it is compulsory to keep hands free of bacteria and viruses. As doctors and nurses are always rushed in their daily works, hand sanitizers are helpful for them.
It was in the mid-1900s that researchers discovered alcohol (a primary germ killer) could be delivered in a gel to provide quick and easy cleaning when there’s no time or access to soap and warm water.
Are All Hand Sanitizers Safe?
While using any hand sanitizer, make sure you use the product that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Studies have proved that sanitizers with lower concentrations or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not as effective at killing germs as those with 60 to 95 percent alcohol.
Are Hand Sanitizers Harmful?
See, there is no proof that alcohol-based hand sanitizers can harm us. But ‘Why You Should Stop Using Hand Sanitizer’, has still some strong points.
Because, theoretically, they could lead to antibacterial resistance. That’s the reason most often used to argue against using hand sanitizers. But there is no proof. In the hospital, there hasn’t been any evidence of resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
But as there is no evidence about its threat, there isn’t any evidence that they do a better job of protecting you from harmful bacteria than soap.
So while hand sanitizers have their place in hospitals or when you cannot wash your hands but, washing with soap and warm water is always a better option.
Hand sanitizers play an excellent role during peak respiratory virus season because they make it much easier to stay away from bacteria.
Why Hand Sanitizers Are So Intense?
While soap and water kill and flush germs from skin, hand sanitizers, work by sitting on the skin and killing germs on contact. They only work, if they have enough alcohol to kill the germs—at least 60 percent. That means a lot of alcohol on your skin that is harmful to its health.
When you apply the alcohol, it begins to evaporate, and it’s through this evaporation that germs are killed. If you dry off the sanitizer before it evaporates, you will reduce its effectiveness.
What’s Wrong With Hand Sanitizers?
When I say ‘Why You Should Stop Using Hand Sanitizer’ it does not mean the normal use of hand sanitizer isn’t going to hurt you, but regular use over time can cause a lot of problems:
- Dry skin: The alcohols used in hand sanitizers include isopropyl, ethanol, and n-propanol. These are the drying alcohols we told you about. They irritate the skin, take its natural oils and acid mantle, dehydrate cells, and raise the risk of contact dermatitis.
- Accelerated Aging: Dry skin increase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and calluses, cracks, and flakiness. Over time, these alcohols also disrupt the natural barrier function, reduce skin’s protection ability, and lead to increased dehydration.
- Damaged skin: It will tough to accept but this is a fact that alcohol can actually damage skin cells. And, scientific studies have proved that.
- Antibiotic Resistance: These days, various sanitizers are made with triclosan. In animal studies, triclosan has been found to disrupt hormone function. It’s also connected to the rise of so-called “superbugs”—bacteria and viruses that can resist antibiotics.
- Some Other Chemicals: Many hand sanitizers contain chemical fragrances. As manufacturers do not list fragrance ingredients on the label, you don’t know what you’re exposing yourself to. Some fragrances are irritating and might have linked to allergies and hormone disruption.
- Effective in Work: The FDA states that presently, there is no evidence that antibacterial soaps and sanitizers are more effective than regular soap and warm water in helping to prevent the spread of germs.
- These points will make you understand ‘Why You Should Stop Using Hand Sanitizer’.
10 Times You’re Overusing Hand Sanitizer
Clean your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty, or if you’ve touched chemicals. After playing outdoor sports or working at a construction site, hand sanitizers may not work well. There are many situations, where you should avoid sanitizer but you still use it. Like:
Wash Hands With Soap
You don’t need to always use hand sanitizer to stay germ-free. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the perfect way to get rid of germs is by proper hand-washing that physically removes the bugs and washes them down the drain.
Go for alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. But if you can easily take a trip to the sink, soap and water are preferable in all situations.
Your Hands Are Visibly Dirty
Anyone who’s tried to use hand sanitizer to clean dirt off their hands knows this just creates a muddy mess. Hand sanitizers do not remove dirt and are less effective at killing bacteria and viruses when hands are soiled. Here you need to use soap and water if your hands need to be cleaned of dirt. After involving in sports, gardening, or playing outside, avoid the hand sanitizer.
Engaged In Chemical Works
If you are using sanitizers for getting rid of contaminants from harmful chemicals like pesticides or heavy metals, they cannot help. When you’re handling hazardous materials, don’t depend on hand sanitizer. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Someone Sneezes Next To You
If someone is coughing and sneezing close to you, you probably try to reach for the hand sanitizer. But, you’ll probably catch their infection through the air droplets you’re breathing in, not the germs on your hands.
Without Touching Anyone Or Anything
Sometimes, you put on hand sanitizer without even thinking about what you did or didn’t touch; it becomes your habit.
This overuse could actually create resistant bacteria. This is not so surprising but bacteria can, and have, evolved to develop resistance to pretty much anything.” So the more we use hand sanitizer routinely, the greater the likelihood germs may become tolerant of the alcohol. Reserve using the stuff for when it’s necessary.
In The Middle Of An Outing
Experts say it’s not necessary to sanitize your hand always when you’re out unless you’re going to eat and can’t wash your hands. Instead, avoid touching your face to prevent any hand germs from getting into your body until you have access to a sink. After reaching home, wash your hands right away.
The more you use hand sanitizer, the more your skin won’t like it. “I think that irritation or drying out is both certainly possible from overuse,” Dr. Coil says. And ironically, might there a risk of skin that’s dry and cracked leading to more infection? “It at least seems plausible,” he says. If you’re going to use hand sanitizer, instead of constantly reapplying, do it once properly right after contamination occurs, such as after shaking someone’s hand. The CDC says to rub over all surfaces of both hands until your hands are dry, about 20 seconds. Plus, make sure you don’t wipe it off.
You’re Around Children
Although hand sanitizer is safe to use on kids, the CDC notes some concerns regarding children having regular access to it. Hand sanitizer is often not in a child-proof container. But if you are a hand sanitizer-lover, you need to be aware of the risks involved in keeping it easily accessible in purses, cars, and around the house.
You’ve Just Gone To The Bathroom
If you have just gone to the bathroom and there is no access to sing, hand sanitizer might be your only option. The same goes for after you’ve changed a dirty diaper, touched animals, or handling garbage. Any situation you’d regard as generally germy is going to be better solved with soap and water.
You’ve Touched Raw Meat
Before and after you prepare food, washing your hands is the only option because hand sanitizers aren’t going to vanish. Raw meat and fish can make hands greasy that the CDC notes will cause hand sanitizers not to work well.
As per the FDA’s guide, food service workers should not use hand sanitizer in place of hand-washing. So after preparing food or after going fishing, use soap and water.
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