Hand sanitizer may seem like a versatile tool for protection against viruses and bacteria, but there are more than a dozen situations, when the habit of disinfecting their hands instead of a wash at best not help and at worst can lead to serious consequences, says Reader’s Digest.
If you happen to produce a disinfectant for the hands in the era of pandemic, you likely use it constantly. Germs are everywhere, and those who are particularly concerned about the problem of infection by the coronavirus, hand sanitizer may seem like an effective defense. But doctors and scientists say disinfectant for the hands is not necessarily good. Too frequent use can have serious consequences for the microbiome, so-called “good” bacteria that keep the skin and whole body healthy.
“There is no doubt that the use of the disinfectant for the hands is not only excessive, perhaps, any use will violate the microbiome hands, says David Coyle, a microbiologist from the Center of the genome of California, Davis. — It actually kills a lot of germs”.
Disinfectant for hands can destroy both good and bad germs; but because research on what constitutes a healthy microbiome for the hands, still continuing, can be difficult to define what “too much”.
In this article we are talking about disinfectants for hands that use at least 60% alcohol to kill germs. Management under the control over products and medicines has recently updated the information about which ingredients are permitted in disinfectants for hands, so they should no longer be harmful substances such as triclosan. However, abuse they should not, especially in these cases.
You have access to soap and water
You don’t need to use a disinfectant for the hands to kill germs. According to the recommendations of the Centers for control and prevention of diseases (CDC), the best way to get rid of germs is proper hand washing, which physically removes all harmful microorganisms and washes them down the drain.
“Soap and water is always a great way to clean your hands, says Graham Snyder, medical Director of infection prevention at UPMC. — Home soap and water should be method number one. Disinfectant hand sanitizer alcohol-based can be useful when soap and water are unavailable.”
The use of antiseptics for hands may seem an easier task than a trip to the sink, but if so, just wash your hands.
“Soap and water is preferable in all possible situations,” says Dr. Coyle.
Your hands are visibly soiled
Anyone who has tried to use disinfectant for the hands to clean hands from dirt, know that this only worsens the situation.
“Disinfectants for hands, alcohol-based will not remove the dirt and less effective to kill bacteria and viruses, when the hands are contaminated, says Dr. Snyder. — It is important to use soap and water if necessary to wash his hands from the dirt”.
So after sports, gardening or playing outside and avoid a disinfectant for the hands.
Have you worked with chemicals
The CDC also notes that disinfectants for hands is not very effective for getting rid of pollution harmful chemical substances such as pesticides or heavy metals. A study on employees of farms, those who used hand sanitizer the hand sanitizer for cleaning hands, the level of pesticides in the body was higher than those who did not. Although more research is needed if you work with hazardous materials, don’t rely on sanitizer for hands. Wash your hands thoroughly.
When someone sneezes next to you
If you are in the office or on the train, and a sick person coughs and sneezes near you, your first impulse may be to get sanitizer for hands. But it is much easier to get an infection through inhaled air droplets and not through the hands.
“Contaminated hands is only one way to get an infection, says Dr. Snyder. But it can be done through inhalation for example, the flu”.
For the prevention of influenza make the annual flu shot, and remember about other methods of disease prevention such as prevention of insect bites and proper cooking and storage of food.
You no one and nothing was touched
Perhaps you are using a disinfectant for the hands, not even thinking about what you did or touched; it’s just a habit. But this abuse can actually create resistant bacteria.
“Research pretty clearly showed that the bacteria eventually become more resistant, the discovery of even tested on mice, says Dr. Coyle. — It’s actually not surprising: bacteria can evolve and develop resistance to almost everything”.
Thus, the more often we use hand sanitizer, the more likely it is that microbes can become tolerant to alcohol. Spray hands with disinfectant only when it is really necessary.
You are halfway during the walk
Some experts, trying to reduce the use of disinfectants for hands, say that this is not necessary, even if you’re not going to eat and not wash their hands.
“I personally believe that in such places as grocery stores, it does not need, says Dr. Coyle. — Instead, avoid touching the face to prevent the ingress of bacteria into your body, unless you have access to a sink. When you return home, immediately wash your hands.”
You have disinfected hands 5 minutes ago
The more you use disinfectant for hands, the less it will appeal to your skin.
“Irritation or drying, of course, possibly due to excessive use of such funds,” says Dr. Coyle.
Could there be a risk that the skin will become dry and cracked, leading to the growth of the infection?
“At least, that seems the most likely,” he says.
If you are going to use hand sanitizer instead of having to constantly apply it, do it once — correctly — immediately after contamination, such as after shaking hands: the CDC says that you need to RUB all surfaces of both hands until the hands are dry, about 20 seconds. In addition, make sure you do not wipe it.
You touched raw meat
Needless to say, before and after preparing food you should wash your hands: disinfectants will not help. Raw meat and fish can make your hands greasy, which, as noted by the CDC, will lead to the fact that disinfectants for hands will not work. The FDA guidelines for catering staff also stressed that disinfectant for the hands cannot be used in place of hand washing. So after cooking or after fishing use soap and water.
When someone pulled out
Be vigilant about washing hands every time, when symptoms of intestinal infection are present in a family member, or colleague.
“If you or someone else at home sick with vomiting or diarrhoea, hand washing with soap and water is better to prevent disease than disinfectant alcohol-based,” says Dr. Snyder.
And remember that trying to avoid all germs by using a disinfectant for hands can create a false sense of security, says Dr. Coyle.
“Let’s say you’re working somewhere where a lot of people touches to many things, so you use disinfectant for hands to protect himself from germs, he says. And then you will get the norovirus, which you could have avoided if you’d just like to be washed with soap and water.”
You are near children
Despite the fact that disinfectant for hands and safe for children, the CDC expressed some concern that children have regular access to it.
“The use of disinfectants for hands, alcohol-based, as they are designed for contact with skin, will not lead to significant absorption of alcohol into the body, says Dr. Snyder. But ingestion or inhalation of alcohol might lead to injury or poisoning”.
Hand sanitizer is often easier for the child seats, and from 2011 to 2015 to poison control centers in the U.S. received almost 85 000 calls about the impact of the disinfectant on children. Lovers of antiseptics for the hands should be aware of the risks related to the fact that such funds are readily available in bags, cars and around the house.
You are sick and want to get out of the house
If you think that the use of disinfectant for the hands means that you can safely go to the people when you’re sick, think again.
“Hand hygiene is an important way to prevent many infections, but prevention of infection also includes the need to stay home when we are sick, to avoid infecting others,” says Dr. Snyder.
You just went to the toilet
If you have used outdoor toilets, disinfectant for the hands may be the only option for cleaning hands. But if you can get to the sink again, wash your hands. The same thing happens after you changed a dirty diaper, touch an animal or took out the trash.
According to the CDC, any situation in which, in your opinion, you could contaminate hands, it is best to neutralize with soap and water. The only case when you should use a disinfectant for the hands in such situations — lack of access to the sink.
“Disinfectants for hands is probably not very good for your skin, they lead to resistance of germs, they create a false sense of security and do not replace soap and water, which in any case is preferable,” recalls Dr. Coyle.