Hand sanitizers started to be used in hospitals for doctors to clean their hands quickly in order not to transfer bacteria and viruses from one patient to another. When they first came out commercially, they seemed like the perfect solution to defy humans’ tiniest enemies, germs! The amazing thing about those gel cleansers is that they can be carried around anywhere and can kill germs in no time.
Hand sanitizers are saturated with alcohol which represents 60% of its contents and acts as the active ingredient. Once you spread the gel over your hand and wait for the alcohol to vaporize, it kills germs, so you can’t just wipe it off. Unfortunately, being exposed to concentrated alcohol has its alarming side effects on your health and skin.
Here are seven scary facts about sanitizers:
1. Some Products Contain Unmentioned Chemicals
Commercial sanitizers contain fragrances and colors along with the active ingredients. The chemical ingredients of the fragrances are not necessarily mentioned on the sanitizer’s label. Hence, by using such products, you make yourself prone to hormone disruption and allergies due to unknown ingredients.
2. Hand Sanitizers Aren’t Effective
Recent studies have shown that using antibacterial sanitizers and soaps is not better than washing with regular soap and water to defy germs. In fact, overuse of antibacterial products can increase the amounts of germs. Skin has natural oils which stop bacteria from emerging to its surface; antibacterial products strip the skin of these oils consequently reducing the skin’s resistance.
3. They Dry Skin
As alcohols like isopropyl, n-propanol and ethanol vaporize off the skin; they strip its natural oils and dehydrate its cells. This in its turn increases the risk of contact dermatitis and irritates the skin.
4. Rise of Superbugs
Apart from the aforementioned alcohols, a lot of hand santiziers contain an antibacterial called triclosan. Excessive use of products containing triclosan caused bacteria and viruses to have antibiotic resistance and become what are known as superbugs. This antibacterial also contributed to the distruption of hormone function as shown in animal studies.
5. Premature Aging Signs
Loss of natural oils and dehydration deprive the skin from its natural barrier and thus makes it more vulnerable to aging signs. Wrinkles, cracks, fine lines and flakiness of skin can all be delayed if the skin stayed hydrated and protected itself from environmental aging factors.
6. Reduce Immune Defense
Completely eliminating bacteria from our lives decreases our defense against it. The immune system needs to recognize bacteria in order to develop and memorize the antibodies necessary to kill those bacteria. By constantly cleaning the environment, the immune system doesn’t enough practice and so it becomes weaker.
In order to avoid the negative side effects of sanitizers, either substantially reduce their use or go for the following alternatives:
1. Wearing Gloves
When your hands are about to face situations which are filled with germs like pushing shopping carts or riding public transport, wear gloves to protect them. Remember to keep the gloves clean from the inside.
2. DIY Sanitizer
You can make an antibacterial recipe yourself without adding alcohol to retain your skin’s hydration. Simply mix vitamin E oil, lavender, hazel extract, tea tree oil and aloe with some water and insert in a spray bottle to be carried with you. You may add lime and lemon to the mix.
3. Pick a Natural Product
Although organic hand sanitizers are not very common in the market, you can try to choose more natural options. As you should know by now that alcohol causes a lot of trouble for your skin, so look for alcohol free products.