There are many people who religiously use their hand sanitizers and feel almost incomplete without them! They usually associate their frequent use of hand sanitizers to their hygiene-loving lifestyle. Fancy advertisements stress the use of them so much that it has become an addiction for many. It has become a ubiquitous phenomenon! Before this ‘amazing’ product launched, people were satisfied with washing their hands with plain water, but nowadays it has become such a dire need, that even water seems substandard at times! But what is the real truth behind these ‘much-needed’ hand sanitizers?
Here we look upon 5 reasons that will make you turn away from hand sanitizers altogether. If you are inquisitive about those clear magic potions, the truth unravels here to make you realize it’s doing more harm than good.
1. It Adversely Affects Your Skin
Initially the sanitizers which pioneered the market were all alcohol-based. Alcohol is known to have adverse effects on the skin and prolonged usage of alcohol-based products can damage the skin, upsetting the balance of the pH levels, as well as causing skin irritations. The hands gradually seem to look aged compared to the rest of the body, as they dry up the skin, increasing the risk of blemishes and wrinkles. Moreover they hinder the production of natural oils causing the skin to become flaky and rough.
If there really is a need to use alcohol-based sanitizers, then it’s advisable to ensure the dryness is treated after the use with some water-based/ oil-based moisturizers depending on your skin type.
2. It Can Lead To The Development Of Superbugs
As sanitizers saturated the market and gained popularity, companies researched and changed the conventional alcohol-based sanitizers. Triclosan is a major constituent of sanitizers. It is known for its antibacterial properties and is also present in most of the consumer products like toothpaste, mouthwash, soaps etc. However, prolonged use of triclosan gives rise to superbugs. These bugs are stubborn diseases that will develop immunity and resistance to antibiotics – such as triclosan.
Triclosan is already at the center of a controversial debate for its potential effects on organisms and the environment and is known to cause outbreaks of stubborn and potentially harmful bacteria. Sanitizers therefore provide a breeding environment and fuel the growth of superbugs.
Although debatable, some studies have revealed that products with a high-volume ingredient of triclosan may be linked to heart diseases as well as impairment in muscular and skeletal activities. Alteration of hormone regulation has also been observed with the prolonged use of triclosan-based consumer products.
The basic fact that triclosan was initially introduced as a pesticide should be an eye-opener to many!
3. It Contains Unknown And Possibly Dangerous Chemicals
Considering the damaging effects of triclosan, keep in mind that it’s not the only harmful ingredient present in your favorite sanitizers. Scented sanitizers are on a whole new level altogether! They are loaded with toxic chemicals. Since fragrances are a part of proprietary information, the companies gain advantage of not disclosing their trade secrets and therefore we’re unaware of the chemicals that formulate these fragrances.
Phthalates which are a normal constituent of the synthetic fragrances have been proven to be extremely harmful and linked to asthma, issues in male fertility, hormonal disruptions, neurodevelopmental hindrances and many other worst conditions that include breast cancer and obesity as well. If at all, it’s best to avoid scented sanitizers.
Another preservatives to watch out for are the family of “Parabens”. Since sanitizers contain a percentage of water, these parabens are required to hinder the growth of microbes. These horrid parabens are skin irritants and are associated with reproductive, immune, as well as nervous system toxicity.
4. It Can Increase Your Skin’s Absorption Of BPA
If there is anything that affects your endocrine system, then it has a cascading effect on the nervous system as well as other body issues. BisphenolA (BPA) is one such chemical product that affects our endocrine system and has been making headlines in recent years. It’s basically used to harden plastics and there had been a mass movement in order to eliminate this chemical product, and the movement continues to this day.
BPA and hand sanitizers are a dangerous toxic mix. Sanitizers are known to catalyze the absorption of BPA in our skin, hence leading to increased levels of BPA in our bodies that link to obesity, infertility and cancer. Though they are not a direct constituent in sanitizer formulas, they do speed up the absorption of BPA. Scenarios include handling cashier receipts, canned foods, automotive parts, airline tickets, eyeglass lenses and many more. As soon as you make use of hand sanitizers, right after or before handling these materials, you in turn catalyze the absorption of BPA as much as 185 times!
A thin layer of BPA resides on the skin, even after it has been absorbed. So basically, you use a hand sanitizer and then you eat something, you are consuming a dangerous chemical with every morsel you intake using your bare hands, which are of course loaded with BPA. Having knowledge about those products that contain BPA is useful as it will help you avoid them after making use of a hand sanitizer.
5. It Isn’t Even That Effective
After acknowledging all the potentially harmful effects of these sanitizers, if at all, you happen to justify the use of sanitizers that they “at least” helping to kill off germs, then you may be highly mistaken.
There are both harmful and useful bacteria on our skin. Sanitizers that contain almost 60% of alcohol are useful in killing the germs, but along with drying up the natural oils on the skin, they also take away the useful bacteria from our skin, which is much needed as a defense against diseases.
If conventional soap and water is proven to be adept at washing away the dangerous bacteria, why do we make sanitizers so important in our lives? Unless we have zero access to soap and water, we can make use of non-scented alcohol based sanitizers; otherwise the traditional hand washing method is the tbest.
By now, let’s hope your addiction to hand sanitizers has been reduced. There are other ways to sanitize your hands as well. Homemade sanitizers are much better than smearing off the shelf products, of which we don’t even know what’s in them. Homemade sanitizers reduce all those industry chemicals, and make use of simple rubbing alcohol, vegetable glycerin, Aloe Vera gel etc. There are many recipes available.
Making use of thin gloves in public places like buses, trains, airports etc, you can ensure minimum contact with germs and BPA. Make it a habit to avoid rubbing your face or eating while using gloves though.
As a last resort, there are some organic or natural-ingredient hand sanitizers available on the market. As you read this article, you must be well aware of what to watch out for so you can scan through the ingredient list and avoid triclosan. They will probably cost more, but it will be a good investment for reducing your health risks.
Whether to continue your use of hand sanitizers or abandon them is your choice. The final verdict is yours. Choose wisely!