The quintessential nemesis of the pathogens, hand sanitizer is a modern solution used as a substitute for the traditional practice of rinsing hands with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer has been in vogue since the 80s, but the last few years have seen this novel formula emerge as the most popular alternative to hand washing – the preferred mode of hand hygiene.
Although the mass acceptance of an alternative means to such an effective mechanism of hand hygiene can be attributed to the ever-increasing consumerist culture, the popularity of hand sanitizer reached newer heights during this current coronavirus pandemic. Now, cleansing your hands at regular intervals is a statutory requirement and not a mere recommendation.
Thus, hand sanitizer is everywhere these days. The drastic shift in market demand has been a boon for the manufacturers and traders in an otherwise crippled economic scenario. Hand sanitizers are now being marketed in a wide range of forms – sprays, gels, foams, and wipes. Offices and institutions everywhere are equipped with wall-mounted automatic dispensers, whereas the public has found it convenient to carry a small bottle of the alcoholic solution wherever they go.
|Benefits of using hand sanitizer||Drawbacks of using hand sanitizer|
|Kills Germs||Ineffective brands|
|Accessibility||Not effective against grime|
|Good for skin||Antibiotic resistance|
|The perfect solution during the Flu season||Weakens immune system|
|Cost-effectiveness and lasts longer than expected||Leads to alcohol poisoning|
|Exposure to harmful chemicals|
Advantages of using hand sanitizer
Efficient in killing germs
World Health Organization (WHO) recommends alcohol-based hand sanitizer more than soap and water when it comes to the elimination of bacteria. Thus, it is a more potent solution to prevent the transmission of bacteria. Hand sanitizer is proven to prevent the spread of viruses and keep a healthy environment in schools and workplaces.
Water is a valuable resource. Using hand sanitizer prevents wastage of water. Not only that, in our fast-paced day to day life, we come across situations where we do not have ready access to soap or water.
Hand sanitizer is available in small portable bottles that can easily be carried inside your bag or pouch. It is a constant companion that acts as a life-saver in several complicated circumstances.
Improves skin condition
A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine journal reveals that hand sanitizers have a more positive influence on your skin compared to soap. It is because most of them possess emollients, which are moisturizing solutions that soften and soothe flaky, dry skin.
Effective antidote during the Flu season
The Flu season redoubles the chances of you getting infected. You are more prone to such diseases if your immune system is compromised. The risk is that such infections can spread very easily and at a breakneck pace.
One such means of contamination happens through your hands as you touch surfaces while you are out in public. Then, hand sanitizer is the best option to sterilize and cleanse yourself as soap and water might not be available all the time.
Cost-effective and long-lasting
A dab or a few spritzes of hand sanitizer is sufficient to rid of the pathogens from your hands. Thus, it is enduring and lasts longer if used properly. The small bottles those are more popular among the masses can last for weeks, while the bigger ones can be used for months.
Disadvantages of using hand sanitizer
Not all brands are effective
The consumer must apply the famous Latin adage ‘caveat emptor’ while purchasing hand sanitizers from their local stores. Some brands are reliable and thus fulfil the 60 percent alcohol concentration requirement.
But there are several brands that are spurious, and buyers must exercise caution. They should check the ingredients and reviews carefully before buying one.
Cannot remove grime
Hand sanitizer is effective against germs and bacteria as it purports to be, but it is not useful against the grime. For removing such other types of dirt, bodily fluids, grease, etc. one will have to resort to the conventional use of soap and water. Hand sanitizer will only remove the pathogens.
Hand sanitizers may cause antibiotic resistance as some of them contain an anti-bacterial agent known as triclosan. The use of hand sanitizer for a sustained period may trigger the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
Thus, there is not only a risk of killing the good bacteria, but it increases the chance of contracting the highly contagious norovirus that causes gastroenteritis.
Weakens the immune system
The triclosan in hand sanitizer compromises your immunity, making you susceptible to several diseases. Studies show that prolonged use of hand sanitizers can cause many types of allergies among young kids that can be directly attributed to the presence of triclosan.
The two main ingredients in alcohol-based hand sanitizers are ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. The concentration is high, and it is a risky proposition if accidentally consumed. Cases of alcohol poisoning have been seen among children all over the world.
Exposure to harmful chemicals
The sweet aroma that comes from hand sanitizer is created using toxic chemicals that adversely affect your hormones and are harmful to physiological growth.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prefers the traditional method but recommends using sanitizers that contain over 60% of alcohol for an effective battle with pathogens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supports hand sanitizers but advises restraint while using them. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) sees them as a potential fire hazard.
The effortless technique of disinfecting hands without messing with water has been a hit among the people. But, is hand sanitizer an ideal replacement of washing with soap and water? Can we afford to swap the age-old but still the most credible method of hand hygiene with this inventive technique using ethyl alcohol?
Therefore, the ongoing debate of whether hand sanitizers is safe to use or not does not look like ending soon. However, in this article, we have discussed the pros and cons of using hand sanitizer that will endeavour to reach a conclusion as to the efficacy of this novel creation.
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