If you squirt hand sanitizer thinking that it’s a safe way to clean your hands, then think again!
It wasn’t that long ago, that we didn’t have hand sanitizers. Instead, every time our hands got dirty we’d head for nearest sink. And if there wasn’t one around, a quick wipe on the jeans would do.
But then, in the 90s, the hand sanitizer grew popular. Portable, convenient and quick, the hand sanitizer became an easy, on-the-go way of banishing germs. Just rub a drop of that viscous liquid on your hands, and they are free from 99.9% bacteria.
On the plane. In the car. At the playground. Before touching the shopping cart. After shaking hands with someone who had a cold.
It seemed that there was no end to the many ways we used a hand sanitizer to stay clean and healthy.
But sanitizers were only invented to be used in a scenario, where there was no clean water and soap available. So is it’s constant use warranted?
In fact, hand sanitizers are actually really unhealthy for us. Use them often enough and you’ll accelerate the appearance of ageing.
So what’s wrong with them?
Though the occasional use of a hand sanitizer isn’t going to hurt you, regular use over time could cause a great deal of problems on your skin and overall health.
It causes dry skin
One major problem of using hand sanitizers is that it makes the skin dry. Well we’re not saying that hand sanitizers need to be moisturising! But a regular use of this liquid could cause your skin to peel. And it’s primarily because of one active ingredient, Alcohol.
No, not the one we usually consume in parties and on social occasions. The alcohols used in hand sanitizers include isopropyl, ethanol, and n-propanol. A form of dry alcohol, these substances irritate the skin, strip away it’s natural oil, dehydrate skin cells (which causes the skin to peel), and increase risk of contact with dermatitis.
It accelerates aging
All the above mentioned drying effects can lead to increased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as calluses, cracks, and flakiness. Over time, alcohols can also disrupt the natural barrier function, reducing the skin’s ability to protect itself, also leading to increased dehydration.
It damages your skin
Besides making it dry, alcohols can also damage your skin. In fact, previous research has shown that hand sanitizers could damage your skin cells and cause redness on your skin. This the main reason that you should never give hand sanitizers to small children, for use, as they have very soft skin.
It contains toxic chemicals
Many hand sanitizers are made with chemical fragrances. That’s what makes these sanitizers so redolent! And, as manufacturers are not required to list fragrance ingredients on the label, you don’t know what you’re exposing yourself to. In fact, many fragrances are irritating and have been linked to skin allergies and hormonal disruption.
It weakens the immune system
We think we’re reducing our risk of getting sick when we use hand sanitizers, but they can actually weaken our immune system. Studies have shown that ultra-clean environments—particularly early in life—can contribute to reduced immune defenses later on.
Also many hand sanitizers contain triclosan. A highly controversial ingredient, triclosan, can actually weaken the immune system, making people more susceptible to allergies, and more vulnerable to the toxic chemical Bisphenol A, which is found in plastics.
It does not work well
After using a hand sanitizer you might feel that your hands are clean, but that’s not true. In fact, studies have shown that hand sanitizers do not take off all the residue. Things like fats and sugar deposits do not get affected or cleaned without the use of proper soap. So using it as a method to clean your hands after eating that yummy cheese popcorn will do you no good. In fact these residues tend to pick up more dirt, making your hands dirtier than before.
So, the next time you open your bag for the sanitizer, think again!