The One Simple Reason Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer Again
We learn from a very young age how important it is to maintain cleanliness by washing our hands. It follows from that stated truth that it can only help to use a hand sanitizer to buttress the elimination of harmful bacteria from the hands. So nowadays you’ll see hand-sanitizing stations where ever you might see people frequently use their hands: at gyms, schools, bus stops, etc. It gives people peace of mind that they’re instantly protected from the thousands of people with varying states of wellness and hygiene who might have passed by the same place and touched the same things.
Yet despite the proliferation of hand sanitizers, there hasn’t appeared to be a decrease in the proliferation of harmful bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration finally said enough is enough and asked the hand sanitizer corporations to prove the effectiveness of their products. The results aren’t great. According to Allison Aiello, an epidemiology professor at the prestigious University of Michigan, there is no convincing evidence that these products have any benefit. Relative to soap and water, says Dr. Anna Bowen of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, hand sanitizers actually do less work.
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Moreover, hand sanitizers might be more than ineffective; they may be harmful. Studies have shown that there is an ingredient in non-alcoholic hand sanitizers called triclosan which actually disrupts your endocrine system. It reduces your natural testosterone which reduces muscle strength and can even harm your immune system. The Food and Drug Administration is currently testing these findings to determine exactly how toxic this product might be.
While there hasn’t been any evidence that the increase in hand sanitizers has lead to a decrease in harmful bacteria, there is evidence that it might ironically increase the proliferation of these dangerous organisms. Bacteria are like any other organism; they evolve. And because sanitizers contain antibacterial ingredients, they can bring about antibiotic resistance so now bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to many types of the important antibiotics we use.
And in the long run, these antibacterial ingredients don’t protect against viruses. So if you’re hoping to stave off the common cold by squirting some sanitizers on your hands in the subway, you’re out of luck because colds are actually not caused by bacteria but by viruses.
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The best way to maintain cleanliness is still the natural way. In every public bathroom, you’ll find soap and water which is not only a safe method to clean your hands but an effective one. If you don’t have access to a bathroom, then alcohol and alcohol-based sanitizers are good alternatives as they are fairly good at ridding away with bacteria and some viruses.
So keep it old school and wash your hands just how your parents taught you all those years ago: some suds and some H2O.