Hand sanitizers claim to kill 99.9% of germs, but do they really work? Research studies indicate that sanitizers aren’t as effective against some of the germs we fear most, including colds, flu and the norovirus. There is however, research showing that alcohol-based sanitizers can reduce overall rates of GI infections, cut the number of days kids stay home sick from school, and lower illnesses among college students living in dorms.
A 2009 study at Northwestern University found that children that were raised in an ultra clean environment, may have more health problems as adults. The reason is that these adults have higher levels of C-reactive protein, which is an inflammatory marker. Higher C-reactive protein levels are associated with increased heart attacks, strokes and other diseases. On the other hand, children who grow up in less hygienic environments have 5 - 7 times lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein as adults.
The findings suggest that overusing sanitizers and antibacterial products may cut the number of infectious diseases children get when they are young, but make them less healthy over the long term. This is something parents may want to consider before reaching for disinfectants to protect kids from childhood diseases.
Research raises a concern about the potential health risks from a widely used hand sanitizer ingredient, triclosan.
One problem with hand sanitizers is that they don't cut through grime or dirt. If you have grime or dirt on your hands, wash your hands with soap and water.
If you do use a hand sanitizer, make sure to rub it over the entire surface of the hands, especially between the fingers and your nails.
Some discount hand sanitizers only contain 40% alcohol. In order to do the job, the minimal alcohol content should be at least 60%.
Hand washing with plain soap and water is always preferred method of disinfecting your hands, but when a sink is not easily assessable, a hand sanitizer can be your best alternative.”
A 2011 CDC study found that long-term care facilities where staff used alcohol-based hand sanitizer were six times more likely to have outbreaks of norovirus than facilities where staffers lathered up with soap and water.
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