Hand sanitizer is basically meant to be used when washing hands with soap and water is not possible and one needs protection from bacteria and viruses. Especially during times like these when we are combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, use of sanitizer has considerably increased and so have the unpleasant side effects.
Signs of Skin Damage
If you are using hand sanitizer 7-8 times every day, you might have noticed your hands have become incredibly dry. The primary disinfecting ingredient in hand sanitizer formulas is ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, and they are formulated along with thickeners softeners and sometimes fragrances to curtail the strong smell of alcohol. Frequent use of it can cause skin irritation, or dry out the skin. If you have sensitive skin, the effects can be worse. To prevent the same try using hand moisturizer and staying hydrated.
Risk of Eczema
If you have sensitive skin, increased contact with irritants and allergens may increase the risk of hand dermatitis or ‘eczema.’ This commonly manifests on the skin with redness, dryness, cracks, and even blisters that cause itch or pain. To prevent, individuals should rub their hands together for about 15-30 seconds covering all surfaces with hand sanitizer until the hands are dry, and then apply a moisturizer as many times possible.
Weaken Immune System
Our immune system work on a different programming—it’s auto-tuned to fight diseases. It reacts actively against diseases when disease causing bacteria or viruses attack the body. Triclosan used in sanitizers weakens the human immune function. The weakened immune system makes people more susceptible to allergies Studies show if a human is exposed to clean conditions early on life, it contributes to weaker defense by immune system at the later stage. Researchers at University of Michigan School of Public Health found that triclosan can negatively impact immune system functioning. The study showed that higher levels of triclosan in children and teens led to hay fever and allergy susceptibility in them.
Use of hand sanitizers an lead to ageing of the hand’s skin. Dry skin and dehydration can cause callous formation, flaky skin, wrinkles and cracks. Increased dehydration can also kill the natural barrier of the skin against infections. This means reduced ability of skin to protect itself leading to increase in dehydration and dry skin.
Relying on hand sanitizers to keep hands clean may not always be your best strategy. Opt for washing hand with soap and water whenever possible. Moisturize regularly.