Antibacterial hand sanitizer has been used extensively to help prevent the spread of germs and diseases, such as the common flu 12. However, side effects from overuse, individual sensitivity and the chemicals contained in hand sanitizers, raised enough concerns for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning about its use in 2010. Moderate use along with the common sense to only use the product as indicated may protect the user from any of the possible side effects.
Antibacterial hand sanitizer use may cause skin sensitivity in the form of itching, burning sensation or dry skin 12. Most forms of the sanitizer contain alcohol, which can easily cause redness, dryness and even peeling of skin, especially if used too often. PDR Health recommends not using antibacterial hand sanitizer over large areas of the body, but rather keep the use limited to hand sanitizing only 12. Areas of the body to especially avoid using antibacterial hand sanitizer on include your eyes, ears, mouth, nose and genital areas 12. Also be sure not to use the cleanser on a baby or very young child because the sensitivity and susceptibility of skin irritation in very young children.
Increased UV Sensitivity
Using antibacterial hand sanitizer can increase your skin sensitivity to the ultra violet rays that may cause sunburn in sunlight 12. Exposure to natural sunlight and using either sunlamps or tanning beds should be avoided when using the sanitizer. PDR Health advises protecting your skin with higher levels of sunscreen than normal if you use hand sanitizer 12.
Using antibacterial hand sanitizer can have the side effect of increasing the body’s susceptibility to infection instead of protecting against infection 12. There is both a possible increase of antibiotic resistance and decreased ability to fight infection with continued use of hand sanitizers, according to Drug Watch 2. Using antibacterial hand sanitizers may actually be less effective than traditional soap and water according to Dr. Sarah Janssen of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Antibacterial hand sanitizers can cause possible negative effects on thyroid hormones and estrogen levels. Concerns about the safety of triclosan, a commonly found chemical in hand sanitizer, was reported by Drug Watch 12. Even though the chemical is found in many items, from hand sanitizer to cosmetics and even toothpaste, the FDA has stated it will continue to study the chemical 12.
- skin image by Robert Kelly from Fotolia.com