When was the last time you used hand sanitizer?
As a culture, we’re obsessed with killing germs. And if you look around, you’ll notice that public hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere.
Cleanliness has definitely improved our health over the past centuries, but it’s now well known that living in an over-sanitized environment can put you at risk for developing illnesses, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.
Your good bugs
It seems logical that the cleaner your skin is, the healthier it is.
But most dermatologies agree that cleansing with sanitizers and harsh soaps is dangerous because it kills your good bacteria and disrupts the beneficial microbial community that lives on your skin and keeps you healthy.
There are more than one trillion friendly bacteria living on your skin.
If that gives you the creeps, just think of your good bugs as your own personal invisible army that defends you against pathogenic (bad) organisms.
Why you should avoid hand sanitizers
When you use sanitizers, you kill the good guys along with the bad guys, wiping out your beneficial bacterial army, which reduces your body’s defenses against disease and weakens your immune system.
Hand sanitizers also contain alcohol, a skin irritant that strips away your skin’s natural oils, causing dry and flaky skin and increasing your risk of developing dermatitis.
Alcohol’s drying effects also causes the skin on your hands to age faster because dry skin is more prone to developing fine lines and wrinkles.
They aren’t even that effective
And here’s the kicker…hand sanitizers aren’t even as effective as washing with soap and water.
The FDA states that “there is currently no evidence that sanitizers are any more effective than regular soap and warm water in helping to prevent the spread of germs.”
Studies have also found that sanitizers do not significantly reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin, and they may even increase it!
So, the healthiest way to cleanse you skin and wash away harmful bacteria is with gentle soap and warm water.
If you don’t have access to soap and water, then alcohol-based hand sanitizers are your best bet (just make sure to use lotion afterward so you don’t dry out your skin).
Avoid hand sanitizers and soaps labeled “anti-bacterial” which likely contain the harmful ingredient Triclosan, a suspected carcinogen and hormone disrupter.
Happy hand washing!