When most of us were kids, we played outside and we got dirty. Cuts, scrapes, abrasions, all were cleaned with good old soap and water. We healed and we grew up to be healthy adults.
These days, we are bombarded with antibacterial everything – soaps, wipes, hand santizers… kids are being scrubbed down to the point of washing away their immunity to germs. Unless you are exposed to germs, dirt, bacteria and the like, you never build immunity to it.
Are we being too overly protective? What’s really in hand sanitizer?
First, of course is alcohol. In 2006 – 2011 the average number of cases of people ingesting hand sanitizer was 12,000… some on purpose for the alcohol content. This has become popular among teens, but many involve small children who think it smells good, so it must taste good as well. Even when supervised many kids will try and lick the sanitzer off their hands.
In order for a santizer to be effective it must be at least 60% alcohol. But that is far from all that is in these little bottles that claim to be keeping us safe.
Benzalkonium Chloride – Causes disruption of lipid (fat) bi-layers in cell membranes which is how it kills bacteria. Unfortunately it also kills enzymes your body needs to stay healthy. These enzymes are what control how much water, fat and other materials enter the cells. It is toxic to humans in higher concentrations and toxic to wildlife in its smallest amounts.
Fragranced added – There is no current regulation on “fragrance” at all. It can contain a whole array of chemicals that no one is required to list.
Phthalates – This is the chemical that helps give it an “oily” feel. It has been noted in studies to have negative effects on male reproductive effectiveness.
Formaldehyde – This preservative has been known to irritate the respiratory tract and the endocrine system (regulation of hormones).
Triclosan – This is an antibacterial substance, but has been linked with failing antibacterial resistance over time. This leads to more illness and the lesser ability of the weakened immune system to fight infections off.
Our conclusion? – If you must use hand sanitizer, use it sparingly. Wash your hands frequently with good old-fashioned soap and water.
If you are looking for natural antibacterial properties choose a soap made with essential oils, which are antibacterial and antiviral. Wash your hands, rubbing them for at least 20-30 seconds, then rinse and dry.
Keep yourself healthy by eating good nutritious food, getting fresh air and exercise, drinking lots of clean water, and supplementing with vitamins and minerals.