hand sanitizers, overuse
hand sanitizers, overuse

Hand Sanitizers: How Much Is Too Much?

19 November 2020

Hand sanitizers protect us from infectious bacteria, viruses, and fungi that may be harmful to our skin and hands. However, we are advised to use a hand sanitizer only when there is immediate unavailability of soap and water.

A hand sanitizer contains alcohol that helps to kill some viruses, bacteria, and alcohol. Nonetheless, it does not remove other substances such as physical dirt, grime, and mucous the way water and soap does. Therefore, hand sanitizers are more recommended to people who need to wash their hands throughout the day, such as health practitioners or the general public during a pandemic like coronavirus.

Effects of Using Too Much Hand Sanitizer
Too much sanitizer can make you antibiotic-resistant. Some sanitizers contain components such as triclosan that can increase a person's resistance to antibiotics. The component may further endanger your health and make antibiotic treatment ineffective on your body.

Scented sanitizers may contain toxic chemicals, including phthalates that mimic our hormones while disrupting the endocrine glands. Some companies refuse to include such chemicals on their ingredients list so that people are not aware of the harmful impacts of these chemicals.

When ingested, a hand sanitizer may cause alcohol poisoning. The alcohol used in the manufacture of hand sanitizers can be detrimental to your health. If ingested, you may suffer from intoxication due to the antimicrobial properties present in the sanitizer.

How Much Is Too Much?
According to a study by the American Journal of Infection control done to investigate how well the hand sanitizers cover the hands, it was discovered that a person should use 3ml to sanitize their hands sufficiently. 

However, the volume to apply also depends on the size of a person's hands. To cover all areas, 3ml should be enough for people with small and medium hands. More should be used for people with big hands.

Should You Constantly Use a Hand Sanitizer Throughout the Day?
While a hand sanitizer kills some bacteria, viruses, and fungi, health practitioners recommend that you do not constantly use a hand sanitizer due to its negative effects on your body. You should stop overusing the products as they may already be putting a strain on the struggling healthcare sector in case of any harmful impact. 

If your hands are physically dirty and you have been using chemicals, you should wash your hands with soap and water. Sitting close to a sneezing person and touching raw meat also requires using soap and water rather than a hand sanitizer.

How Long Does a Hand Sanitizer Stay Effective?
Hand sanitizers made using alcohol as the main ingredient (at least 70 %) kill almost 99.9 % of the germs at around 30 seconds after you apply, and in a minute, it kills around 99.999%. the alcohol starts to become effective 10 seconds after you apply. The evaporation process is responsible for killing the microbes. If you use higher doses of alcohol, the results will be relatively fast and slower when you use lower alcohol doses.

Final Thoughts
A hand sanitizer is effective in killing microbes and preventing the spread of pathogens. However, it should only be used when there is an absence of water and soap because it contains some harmful chemicals that may be harmful to your hands and skin. A hand sanitizer also doesn't get rid of grease, physical dirt, and mucous; therefore, it is recommended that you use water and soap to get rid of such dirt.