With the COVID-19 pandemic still of major concern to the whole world, hand sanitizer is one of the most researched and widely used products in the world. Every few minutes, especially in public, people all over the world spray, squirt or spray hand sanitizer.
But as we continue to use, if not abuse, this essential product in these trying times, what do we really know about SH and its effects on our bodies? It can kill germs topically, but does it have any effects on your body internally? Let’s explore the current sanitation craze and how SH could actually ruin your health.
Can too many good things be bad for you?
Across the globe, the demand for hand sanitizer increased 16-fold between December 2019 and March 2020. This is due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and more people around the world wanting to kill as many as a possible spread of germs.
People are generally more and more challenged about their personal hygiene and how being around others affects and causes germs to spread. All of this sounds like we’re headed in the right direction, with the exception of one problem: too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. It is possible to overuse the SH and put your health at risk.
How serious is the overuse of hand sanitizer?
Research shows that overuse of any skin sanitizer like hand sanitizer can actually kill bad bacteria; as well as good bacteria. This is because SH can disrupt entire microbiomes and bacterial communities, which are the very defenses that keep users from getting sick. “One aspect of HS that is generally overlooked is that they can affect the body’s microbiomes in several ways, and some of these methods could be wrong,” said microbiologist Jonathan Eisen. Without good bacteria, we have to maintain a healthy and protective balance; our physical systems are more susceptible to disease and infection.
So how much hand sanitizer should we use?
It is advised that when possible, washing your hands is actually the best line of defense against bad germs; as it does not kill good germs as hand sanitizer does. Great experts say that if possible, we shouldn’t use HS every day. If it does not directly interact with the public, HS should be the second choice after hand washing.
What happens if we use hand sanitizer every day?
Overuse of hand sanitizer can actually create more bad bacterial conditions than it kills. “According to the CDC; an HS containing antibacterial ingredients may also contribute to the development of bacteria resistant to antibiotics;” says internal medicine expert Seema Sarin. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are so dangerous because they essentially become immune to the only drugs and products are known to destroy them. This is not a good situation to be in, especially when fighting an infection.
What’s even more concerning about HS is that it isn’t as effective as we all might think. While the CDC maintains that it is effective at killing germs, hand sanitizer is not a catch-all for all bacteria.
Another area of concern is the lack of regulation on all companies that make HS. Many disinfectant products that claim to kill germs have not been evaluated by the FDA, making their products unreliable. Sources suggest that there are, in fact; several companies facing legal action over fraudulent and unsubstantiated allegations regarding their hand-sanitizer products.
So how much hand sanitizer equates to a legal dose?
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