The Risk Of Overusing Sanitizers. Many people know of the value of sanitizers. This is especially true in the last few years with the Covid-19 outbreak.
We’ve all been taught from early childhood about the importance of handwashing, but with the virus outbreak, much emphasis has been made on the various hand-sanitizing products available. But is there such as thing as overusing sanitizing products? If so, what are they?
Most hand sanitizers contain a large percentage of alcohol. Many kinds have 60 or 70 percent, which is considered by authorities to be safe and effective. However, frequent use of these sanitizers invariably leads to dry and even cracked skin due to the drying effects of alcohol. Dry skin is known to pick up more germs from surfaces or people.
Regular use of hand creams to replace the moisture taken from your hands by the alcohol will help prevent your hands from drying as much.
Kinds of Alcohol
There are different kinds of alcohol. Most hand sanitizers contain either ethanol or isopropanol, also known as rubbing alcohol.
However, a few hand sanitizers are available that include methanol, also called wood alcohol. This type of alcohol can cause many problems, especially in more significant amounts. These problems are more likely to occur when this alcohol is taken internally, but the skin can absorb it.
Possible side effects can include headache, blurred vision, blindness, damage to the nervous system, seizures, and even coma and death. With the high usage of hand sanitizers lately, it’s essential to ensure that your brand has a safe kind of alcohol.
With the popularity of hand sanitizers, many companies see an easy profit to be made by manufacturing or marketing these products.
Some may contain unlisted or unspecific fragrances or other ingredients that can harm sensitive people. Both possible allergic reactions and even hormonal disturbances can occur.
It’s a good idea to read labels carefully and stay with products with well-known brand names. Avoid cheap products that may not have been carefully manufactured and are just intended to make quick profits.
Problems with Immune Systems
Children kept in an environment that is too germ-free can have a weaker immune system later in life, usually resulting in more allergies. A study showed that high levels of triclosan, a common ingredient in hand sanitizers, can lead to these problems later on.
What Can Be Done
Instead of automatically reaching for the hand sanitizer, many authorities encourage people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with plain soap and water. Hand sanitizer should be used when soap and water are not available.
Some scientists believe that overuse of hand sanitizers may lead to increasing bacterial mutations, causing the bacteria to be less sensitive to antibacterial agents.
This doesn’t happen as often with viruses. However, bacterial modifications that make antibiotic agents less effective can have severe consequences, including limiting the number of antibiotics used to combat specific bacteria.
Problems with Antibacterial Soaps
These soaps have been commonplace for several years. While they mainly address bacteria, some have been found to interfere with some viruses.
However, bacteria and viruses act differently, and it’s a mistake to think these products will protect you from everything. Proper washing with soap and water is as effective, if not more effective, at removing germs from your hands.
Problems with Surface Disinfectants
These products are marketed to be sprayed on surfaces. Since many germs can stay active on surfaces for a certain period, this sounds sensible. However, these products, mainly if used extensively, can cause problems.
Some sprays fly through the air when a disinfectant is sprayed on a surface. It can cause eye irritation and skin drying.
It can even cause dermatitis in people with sensitive skin. Likewise, inhaling the spray particles floating through the air can cause coughing and may worsen some already existing lung or breathing problems.
Some disinfectant sprays contain a chemical called ethanolamine, which meant to adjust the pH of the product to keep the disinfectant stable. This chemical can cause liver damage and harm the kidneys in larger doses.
Problems with Bleach
People who mix a bleach solution in a spray form run similar risks with irritation of the eyes and skin.
Frequent use of sprays containing bleach runs the risk of worsening asthma and other respiratory conditions. Cleaning or spraying with bleach can even raise the risk of developing COPD by as much as 32 percent.
All in all, it’s safer to rely more on plain old soap and skip hand sanitizer unless there is no other choice. Likewise, it’s best not to be too enthusiastic about disinfectant sprays.
Indeed, if someone goes home from work sick, it’s wise to spray their workplace or items in your home handled by someone who later turns out to have been ill. Use common sense in these products, and remember that nothing is a surefire preventative.