Grab it Wipe it Squirt it – Rub it. It’s the hand sanitizer boogie. OK, so perhaps I won’t try and turn this to the next Gangnam Style dance craze. Even though, I think it already is. Hand sanitizing is a favorite practice and available at grocery cart channels, banks, schools and other public areas where your hand could potentially touch where somebody else’s hand – or hands – has already been. And you have no idea where those hands have been before. Just the idea makes you catch the nearest available hand sanitizer, which very well could be in your pocket, jacket or purse.
The use of hand sanitizers is a custom of keeping pathogens, virus bugs and bacteria from performing their sneezing, wheezing and, from time to time, nauseating strikes on we humans and our children. Good or bad, we are a germaphobic society. The awareness that microorganisms cause sickness, disease and even death has been one of the more valuable discoveries in medicine. The question on the minds and lips of some is – have we taken it too far?
But I mostly say this since germaphobia may be unhealthy, both emotionally and physically, that has been shown by the development of seriously deadly antibiotic resistant bacteria and the stress that some people put themselves through over preventing germs – the continuous strain of disinfecting every inch of the environment. Awareness is good, paranoia into the degree of overdoing isn’t. In regard to hand sanitizers, there is both the good and the bad.
Adaptive immunity is the role of the immune system that creates a defense against parasitic microorganisms that formerly have infected the body. In other words, it’s good your kids get sick. This protects them later in life.
Its debatable whether using a hand sanitizer has a powerful negative effect on adaptive immunity. Research does show that the use of hand sanitizers does cut down on sick days taken by school kids, but isn’t clear on if this cuts down on the amount of illness kids develop throughout childhood.
Triclosan. Bad. The evidence isn’t fully in that triclosan is safe to be used by humans. According to the FDA’s site”several scientific studies have come out since the last time FDA reviewed this ingredient which merit further review. Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation. However, data showing effects in animals don’t always predict effects in humans. Other research in bacteria have increased the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.”
The fantastic thing is, triclosan isn’t even necessary in a hand sanitizer. The major ingredient in the very best hand sanitizers is alcohol. The content has to be at least 60% ethanol (alcohol) for the merchandise to be 99% effective.
Pure ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is, debatably, a much better choice than isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol). There is apparently no resistance developed by germs to alcohol – thus there are no alcohol resistant bacteria as there are antibiotic resistant germs.
The affect on the microbiome that alcohol has on the skin isn’t definitive. The concern is similar to antibiotics and their tumultuous effect on the intestinal flora of the gut. The jury remains out on this one. I advise caution and a leaning toward limited, or no use of sanitizers, in order not to compromise the natural flora of the skin.
Now, let’s look at obsessive hand sanitizing. Alcohol may be drying to the skin and does interact with the lipid barrier – protective compound layer – of the skin, which provides a barrier and partial resistance to skin. In 1 report there revealed no break from the lipid barrier with health professionals using an alcohol based sanitizer when the sanitizer also included a moisturizer. Many sanitizers have aloe or glycerin which would count as moisturizers.
I’d raise caution with continuous use of alcohol sanitizers and highly recommend, if over sanitizing is called for, with a hand cream occasionally throughout the day that has similar lipids as those found in the skin’s barrier.
In conclusion I would have to say that you ought to avoid anything with triclosan in it. Wash your hands often – though this may lead to irritation to the skin greater than an alcohol sanitizer if the soaps are too harsh, which many are. If you must use an ethanol based alcohol sanitizer do this only when necessary. Stop being paranoid and a germaphobe, it might cause unnecessary stress.
The best advice is to support your immune system and your immunity to pathogens through a healthy diet, supplements, adequate sleep, de-stressing and a few daily drops of an essential oil like MQV diluted in massage oil and rubbed across the chest, back of the knees and feet.