To maintain good health and to protect oneself from dirt and germs, it is important to keep the hands clean as much as possible so that pathogens cannot attack the immune system directly. However, washing hands all the time, especially when the person is out of their house, is not possible. To resolve the issue of constant hand wash, people have chosen the alternative option, that is, carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer, which is considered a healthy habit.
Wearing a mask and sanitizing the hand has become the new normal in thecorona pandemic. It has been taken into consideration that people are now mostly dependent on hand sanitizers to clean their hands so that they can avoid any infectious agents and their repercussions. But excessive use of hand sanitizer could be malicious to the health as well as stressful on people’s pockets as the product is expensive.
What is Hand Sanitizer?
Hand sanitizer is a substance that helps in cleaning the surface of the hands and works as an alternative to soap and water. It is also called a hand antiseptic or hand rub. The primary responsibility of a hand sanitizer is to remove pathogens. As per microbiological standards, a good hand sanitizer must contain 70% alcohol, ethanol or isopropanol, to be effective on pathogens.
Hand sanitizers come in gel or liquid form, and are sold by various small and big companies with their brand name. It got prominence in the year 1966 in the healthcare sectors like hospitals and clinics.
Side Effects of Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer was introduced as an alternative to soap and water. Companies introduced the product with promising value-added factors like it kills 99 % of germs, keeps the hand soft, unlike harsh soaps, etc. However, with more research and various case studies, it has been proved that prolonged use of hand sanitizers could be deleterious to a person’s health.
Some of the side effects of prolonged use of hand sanitizers are:
1) Hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning: The presence of alcohol in hand sanitizer acts as an agent of poison that in one way helps in killing the germ but, the excessive use may cause harm to human health, especially children and old age people. Therefore, it should be used in moderation.
2) Hormonal disruption: The presence of Triclosan in hand sanitizers can have many side effects that may disrupt the hormonal balance in the body. Researchers have found that it can also lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of various pathogens.
3) Sensitivity to UV light: Prolonged use of hand sanitizers makes the hands susceptible to getting sunburnt more easily. The alcohol in hand sanitizer dries up the skin, leading to skin layers becoming thin that allows the harmful rays to penetrate deeper into the skin, which may also lead to cancer.
4) Weak immune system: As per various studies, excessive use of hand sanitizer weakens the immune system and pushes people towards various ailments.
Excess of anything is bad, and the same goes with the use of hand sanitizers. Sanitizer should only be used when access to soap and water is limited. A simple hand wash can do the same without exposing the body to harmful chemicals present in the sanitizers. Adequate switching between hand wash and sanitizers can provide protection as well as save money.