Millions of people use hand sanitizers every day, believing they safely kill bacteria. Somehow, hands are the most exposed part of the body to germs, but hand sanitizers are not said to replace the soap in overall hygiene. So, it is just right and beneficial to use hand sanitizers? How would you react if you are told that by applying hand sanitizers, you just exposed yourself to more illness?  Are they worth using more often or should we try to avoid them all together?

Using this product is beneficial to one’s health. Yet, there is a downside to it. Hand sanitizers contain ingredients like alcohol, which is often at 70% concentration used to kill microbes. When left on the skin for 30 seconds or longer, it is able to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria present and even some kind of viruses like Influenza A (Health Research Funding, 2014). However, non-alcoholic sanitizers, include some other ingredients like triclosan, benzalconium and chlorhexidine. Such ingredients are known as bacteriostatic, which means they prevent bacterial reproduction. Triclosan, which is the active ingredient in non-alcoholic hand sanitizer, can kill off the “good” bacteria on your hands and allow anti-biotic resistant “bad” bacteria to grow. Most commonly used hand sanitizers contain chemicals, that increases the ability of certain compounds to penetrate deep under the skin (CBS Atlanta, 2015). Recent research has found that levels of antiseptic ingredients in users' urine and blood are higher than previously Margaret Farley Steele, 2016). This raises questions regarding absorption, since these antiseptics aren't washed off. Whenever you can, use soap instead of hand sanitizers, since it does a better job of preserving the flora or “good” bacteria, which are very useful for your hands. Washing your hands with soap and running water remains one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading infections to others.

 

COPYRIGHT: This article is property of We Speak Science, a nonprofit institution co-founded by Dr. Detina Zalli (Harvard University) and Dr. Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). The article is written by Elona Xhemaili (State University of Tetovo, Master of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Macedonia)

 

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