If you use hand sanitizer often, proper hygiene is obviously important to you. There’s a good chance you also wash your hands frequently, as you likely know handwashing can prevent illness and help you maintain personal wellness, as noted by the CDC.
The practice should be an essential part of everyone’s cleanliness regimen as it will not only benefit the person washing their hands, but it can also potentially spare the community from sicknesses caused by bacteria and viruses.
While you’re probably (and hopefully) not considering giving up handwashing anytime soon, it’s true that access to soap and water isn’t always possible, like when you’re riding public transportation, working outside, or shopping at the farmer’s market. To that end, you’ve probably started relying on alcohol-based hand sanitizers to kill the germs on your hands, especially during seasons when illness rates are high. It certainly can ease your anxiety until you’re close to a sink again!
However, there are things that you should know about using hand sanitizer every day, as there could be some unpleasant side effects from doing so. If you’re curious as to what those may be, read on to find out!
You will protect yourself from germs if you use hand sanitizer every day
The primary reason that people use hand sanitizer is, rather obviously, to kill bacteria and viruses. That’s because it’s a vehicle for alcohol, according to Kristina Duda, a registered nurse. “Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is simple to use, convenient, and often easy to find,” she penned in an article for Verywell Health. “Alcohols have long been known to kill microbes by dissolving their protective outer layer of proteins and disrupting their metabolism.” That’s good news for the health-conscious commuter, for sure.
Duda cautions, however, that using hand sanitizer isn’t a substitute for washing your hands, as it can’t do as much as soap, water, and proper handwashing technique. “Hand sanitizer can help kill microbes, but it isn’t effective on all germs,” she continued. Sorry, germophobes! Duda added that it will do nothing for the other substances that may be on your hands, so that’s where the buck stops.
It’s also important to apply sanitizer properly for it to be as effective as possible, too, said Duda. So make sure you’re using the right amount, fully coating both of your hands, and rubbing your hands together until it dries.
Using hand sanitizer every day can disrupt your microbiome
One thing hand sanitizer is especially good at is killing microbes, which is how it keeps people safe from a wide variety of illnesses. However, sanitizer is actually a little too good at killing bacteria, according to microbiologist Jonathan Eisen. “One aspect of hand sanitizers that is usually overlooked is that they can affect bodies’ microbiomes in a few ways, and some of these ways could be bad,” he revealed in an interview with Popular Science. That’s because it kills off bacteria that’s beneficial for keeping our bodily functions in order.
Because hand sanitizer can wreak havoc on our healthy bacterial communities, Eisen advises against using it every day. “I recommend that people use hand sanitizers with caution, and only if really needed,” he added. So if you’re just hanging around your house or aren’t coming into frequent, close contact with other people, you can probably just stick to handwashing.
Originally Publish at: https://www.thelist.com/