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Hand Sanitizer and masks have become the “New Normal” in our lives past few months. With the outbreak of corona virus they have entered in our house, workspace and where ever we go. Rising number of COVID-19 cases, have made hand sanitizer a hot selling commodity of this year. We use them to create a safe barrier between us and the virus.
But the million dollar question is are they really safe ?
How much of a success is the hand sanitizer in safeguarding us from the virus?
Do we have a better option for replacing sanitizers?
Before we delve deep into the risks that we run by using hand sanitizer let’s know a bit about them.
Types Of Hand Sanitizer
Hand Sanitizers are germ killing solution that keeps us safe from infections. However, they are two types of hand sanitizer that can protect us from deadly Coronavirus.
1.Alcohol- Based Sanitizer
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are liquid solutions containing 60% to 90% alcohol that kills the germs more effectively. The commonly used alcohols are ethyl and iso-propyl alcohol. Always check the ingredients when you buy a sanitizer, the percentage of alcohol should be more than 60% or else its not that effective against the deadly coronavirus.
This is a gel that has fewer amounts of alcohol content.Similar to an alcohol based sanitizer it too reduces infections and germs on our hands. The composition is mostly similar except the concentration of alcohol in it.
Basically, an alcohol based Sanitizer is more effecting in killing germs than gel based sanitizers.
This is what happens to your body when you use hand sanitizer every day
We all are using hand sanitizer much more since the advent of the COVID – 19 pandemic in our lives. Hand washing with soap and water is ideally not possible whenever we step out of our house, riding in a car, playing in the park or just shopping.
We heavily rely on sanitizers to wash our hands to keep ourselves safe from the virus the moment we step out of our house.Though hand sanitizers help in killing germs and saving us from infection but there are few unpleasant side effects of using hand sanitizer every single day.
1.Sanitizers are less effective on greasy and soiled hands
When your hands are greasy, washing hands with sanitizers hardly remove any germs. Even if you are thinking that you are keeping yourself safe from virus it hardly does. In fact they tend to attract more dirt and hence more germs. So, don’t use hand sanitizers when your hands are greasy.
This rule is applicable in situations like when we change diapers, empty trash box or clean a dirty surface. Our hands are soiled and hand sanitizers don’t really help to remove dirt and is less effective in killing germs. Prefer using soap and water to clean our hands both from dirt as well as virus.
2.Excessive use can make our hands dry
Frequent or daily use of hand sanitizer leaves a white flaky layer on our hands as the moisture is completely removed by the alcohol. Apart from drying hands few of them also faces allergies or run the risk of having Eczema. Though this can be fixed by using hand moisturizer and remain hydrated.Another option is to use a wet towel or wipe after the use of hand sanitizer.
3.Presence of Triclosan in hand sanitizers
Its very important to know the ingredients present in the hand sanitizers before you use them. Few hand Sanitizers have an active ingredient Triclosan which is a powerful antibacterial agent and also used in making pesticides. It readily gets absorbed by the skin causing thyroid dysfunction and damage to the liver and muscles. Apart from health hazard, exposure to Triclosan can also lead to resistance to antibiotics. So,turn the bottle before you use as well as buy the hand sanitizers. Check out the ingredients present in it.
4.Frequent usage of hand sanitizers just before your meals could lead to alcohol poisoning in kids.
Especially, during this pandemic time it has become a common practice to use hand sanitizer just before our meals. Hardly, pondering on the fact that along with safeguarding ourselves from virus we are also ingesting chemicals along with our food. These chemicals can effect the immunity system especially in children. If kids constantly consume hand sanitizers by heavy usage of washing hands with it before meals then this can lead to alcohol poisoning. Secondly, it can lower there immunity to such a level that the body’s defense mechanism is constantly in fighting mode, resulting in weakened immunity system . When they grow older as an adult they are more vulnerable to diseases.
5. Heavily scented hand sanitizer are endocrine disruptor
Heavily scented hand sanitizers are loaded with toxins and chemicals like pthalates and parabens. Synthetic fragrances contain pthalates that are endocrine disruptor as they mimic hormones altering the human body development and reproduction. Parabens too negatively affect the functioning of hormones, fertility, birth outcomes and reproductive development.
Risks of Physical malpractice of using hand sanitizer
Apart from running into several medical risks and health hazards it also has several dangerous impact with physical malpractice as well.
1.Can Cause Serious Burns if used near any fire
We all are aware that hand sanitizer has alcohol in it which is a highly inflammable chemical and cause burns if we go near any fire after immediate use of it in our hands. There are several reports of such cases of minor as well as serious burns all over the globe.
2.Keeping hand sanitizers inside car
Keeping hand sanitizer inside your car is not at all a good idea, if the bottle is leaky or not air tight then vapour of alcohol could keep accumulating making your car a small gas chamber. Waiting for a small spark to ignite the accumulated alcohol vapour to catch fire.
3.Dipping your Mask in Hand Santizer to clean it.
Its not a good idea to clean your mask with hand sanitizer as it might trap the vapour in the cloth. While wearing it you would inhale fumes that could cause nausea or even vomitting. The best way is to clean it with the regular soap.
Best Practices regarding the usage of Hand Sanitizer
- Wash your hands with regular soap
- Keep the hand sanitizer away from Kids
- Store it in an air tight bottle
- Keep it in a cool & dry place
- Don’t use it in the kitchen
- Clean your mask with Soap
- Don’t sniff them
Concluding thoughts by Medical Experts
CDC (Centres of Disease control and prevention) recommends to wash hands with regular soap for atleast 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer only when soap and water is not an option for use. Washing hands with soap is the best hygienic option available as hand sanitizer can’t remove dirt, grease, harmful chemical and several potential germs like Norovirus, Clostridium Difficile and Cryptosporodium .
Avoid making hand Sanitizer at home, as many burn cases reported all over the globe were due to homemade sanitizers. Use hand sanitizers having more than 60% of ethyl or iso-propyl alcohol and not methyl alcohol.
We can’t eliminate completely the usage of hand sanitizers but can obviously stop overusing it. Prefer hand washing with soap rather hand sanitizer.
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