Is hand sanitizer bad for you?

I personally love hand sanitizer.  My roommate and I probably apply hand sanitizer five or more times a day.  We usually use the scented ones from Bath & Body Works, they smell sooooo good!  But I was thinking, how could something that smells that good really be helping you that much?

Hand sanitizer usually contains about 60 to 65% alcohol.  The alcohol is either ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).  Besides that, they have humectants that help keep skin from getting too dry, and emollients which moisturize by putting back some water that was taken away by the alcohol.

Hand sanitizer is known to kill germs.  Some people are worried that the hand sanitizer kills the “good germs” too.  “Good germs” are also known as “resident microflora”.  “Bad germs” are known as “transient microflora”.  Most hand sanitizers kill both types of germs.  They tend to kill more of the transient microflora.  Although they kill some resident microflora as well, this type of germ is regenerated quickly by the human body and are important for health.  The only way to kill the bad germs is too kill a small amount of the good ones too.

Although hand sanitizer is a very good way to stay clean and healthy, it is NOT an alternative to washing your hands.  It can be used IN ADDITION to washing your hands.  To correctly wash your hands, you need to rub your hands together with soap and water for 20 seconds.  After that is done, you can apply the sanitizer all over your hands until they are dry.  They are saying if you do both, you will be a clean individual!

Hand sanitizer does have some possible bad sides to it.  Some sanitizers can weaken the immune system, disrupt your hormones, cause alcohol poisoning if swallowed, or cause resistance to antibiotics.  But these are very rare in sanitizers.  If you buy a known brand and look through your ingredients, you will be fine.

I have concluded that as long as your sanitizer has over 60% alcohol, you are set!  SO grab your bag, drop your sanitizer in there, and enjoy your day! 🙂

funny-hand-sanitizer-paper-cuts

Works Cited:

  1. http://www.purell.com/faq/
  2. http://www.thestreet.com/story/12966410/1/5-hidden-dangers-of-hand-sanitizers.html
  3. http://www.gojo.com/united-states/about-gojo/newsroom/corporate-statements/facts-about-sanitizers-macinga.aspx?sc_lang=en
  4. http://www.homefoodsafety.org/wash/which-is-best-hand-sanitizer-or-soap-and-water

 

6 thoughts on “Is hand sanitizer bad for you?

  1. pxw5127

    I never stopped to think that there are actually good germs too. Most times when we think of a germ, we put a negative connotation to it. I also have never thought about the fact that hand sanitizer should be used in addition to washing your hands. Most times in society, we use sanitizer instead of washing our hands. I definitely agree with the fact that it can damage your immune system. I am a firm believer that we should not wash our hands all the time. I sometimes do not wash my hands, because it builds up your immune system. Overall, I think the use of hand sanitizer killing bad germs outweighs it killing good germs. Thank you for sharing this interesting blog!

  2. John Luken

    I also try to use hand sanitizer whenever possible especially when there are no bathrooms around to wash my hands. For me it is also a mental thing, knowing that if I use hand sanitizer I will be almost completely germ free. We all have to try and stay away from the Penn State Plague!!

  3. Jiamin Shan

    A lot of times I use hand sanitizer because I am too lazy to wash my hands. However, now I realize that washing hand is still the most effective way to deal with germs. I am not really worrying about whether the hand sanitizer will kill good germs or not. I problem I hand about hand sanitizer is that frequent use of it may cause the reduction in its effects, which means bad germs will be immune to hand sanitizer. It is probably a good substitute when hand washing is not accessible, but frequent use of it may not be a good idea.

  4. Walt

    I was never a frequent user of hand sanitizer because I always assumed it would indeed weaken the immune system. Astudy conducted by the University of Michigan found that the main agent in hand sanitizer, triclosan, “may negatively affect human immune function as measured by CMV antibody levels.” However, the study only used teenage males as participants and the results may be different for other age groups.

  5. Erika Michele Cristiano

    This blog really caught my attention because I hand sanitize before almost every meal. I have a huge fear of getting sick in college so I am constantly carrying a bottle of sanitizer and using it religiously. I was afraid however that this might not be healthy and could be killing to many germs. But now after reading your blog I feel better about this and will definitely continue to hand sanitize and keep myself clean!

  6. Connor Ethan Ogden

    Wow I never even realized there was a such thing as good bacteria! I like how you pointed out that hand sanitizer is not a replacement to hand washing. A lot of people do not understand that. One thing that is different that has been tested is that hand sanitizer is actually much easier on your hands than hand washing is, and hand sanitizer is a lot more convenient. For this reason it is good to keep around because it can greatly reduce your chances of catching the flu or a cold. Finally, I looked it up and hand sanitizer does not cause the feared “super bacteria” in the same way hand washing hasn’t caused it.

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