Regarding the safety of using sanitizers, there has neither been any evidence that sanitizers use poses a threat, nor proof that they do a greater job in protection from harmful bacteria than soap and water. Researchers still recommend the use of soap and water for effective cleaning and staying healthy. However, this does not mean that sanitizers are not useful at all. Take a look at these hand sanitizer FAQs.
People have added in addition to the old norm of using soap and water for cleaning with sanitizers. This has become a popular hygiene option within the current pandemic. The question is, are they safe and effective as people think they are?
Here are some safety tips regarding hand sanitizers:
In order to kill bacteria and viruses, alcohol at or above 70% is preferred. These sanitizers contain ethanol which evaporates easily. These vapors are highly flammable so storing them properly is important. To minimize risk, users are instructed to rub their hands till dry. This indicates that the flammable alcohol has evaporated.
Research shows that alcohol cleaning agents do not pose any risk by eliminating microorganisms that are naturally present on the skin. However, alcohol may strip the skin of the outer layer of oil, which may have negative effects on your skin. Dry skin and cracked cuticles can offer an entry point for germs to enter the body and cause infection. Emollients are topical agents that soften the skin and are sometimes added to sanitizers. These emollients soothe and nourish the skin while the disinfectant rids the hands of germs and bacteria.
Sanitizers pose a risk for alcohol poisoning, particularly for young children. The high concentrations of alcohol in disinfectants can be dangerous if ingested. This could lead to dizziness, slurred speech, headaches, brain damages or even death in extreme cases.
In order to reduce the risk of alcohol poisoning:
- Avoid using instant sanitizers for children whenever possible and opt for regular hand washing instead.
- Use only small amounts. Too much liquid may not evaporate quickly and could be licked off fingers and your hands.
- Supervise children to ensure they rub their hands completely dry and store the hand sanitizers out of their reach.
For best results, the product from a sanitizer maker should be alcohol based, containing at least 60% ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol. According to the FDA, methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizer products and can be toxic. Non-alcohol based sanitizer is not only less effective in killing germs but also can be harmful to your health. Germs can even develop resistance to some types of disinfectants. Also try to avoid sanitizers which contain triclosan. This is a synthetic element added to antibacterial products. Exposure to high triclosan dosages can decrease some thyroid hormones making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Hand sanitizers aren’t a bad thing to have on hand, especially when you don’t have access to soap and water. But, when you can, wash your hands in addition to using your sanitizer.