They are readily available and come in foams, gels and sprays in an array of scents. But have you looked at the ingredients? And what are the hidden dangers of hand sanitisers on your skin and health in general?
Alcohol Hand Sanitisers
Possibly the most widely used ingredient is alcohol, either in the form of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is the form of alcohol that is found in alcoholic beverages. The recommended concentration of alcohol in hand sanitiser is between 70 and 95% or roughly twice the concentration in vodka or tequila. It is thus not surprising that the use of sanitisers containing alcohol can lead to skin problems over time. In an article by Haley Richardson in the UK Daily Mail, March 2020, London based dermatologist Emma Coleman warned against the use of alcohol-based hand sanitising gels saying `they can be harmful to the skin as it is drying and disrupts the skin’s normal barrier function and accelerates ageing’. Triclosan Hand Sanitisers
Another common active ingredient is Triclosan. Triclosan is linked to several health problems. In an article from 2014 by Jim Cramer in the USA titled ‘5 hidden dangers of hand sanitisers’ he raised issues about the use of triclosan which is labelled as an antibiotic and he said that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that Triclosan could carry unnecessary risks. These include:
- Triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. In a 2011 study by the Epidemic Intelligence service in the US, researchers found that health care employees who were most likely to use hand sanitisers regularly were six times more at risk of outbreaks of norovirus, which causes most cases of acute gastroenteritis.
- Triclosan may lead to hormonal disruptions. Animal studies have shown that the compound could change the way hormones work in the body, raising concerns and warranting further investigation to better understand how they might affect humans.
- Studies have shown that Triclosan can also harm the immune system which protects the body against disease. Researchers in the US found that Triclosan may negatively affect human immune function. Compromising the immune system can make people more susceptible to allergies and more vulnerable to the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A which is found in plastic packaging. In the study, children and teens were more likely to be diagnosed with hay fever and other allergies.
The Cramer article also cited scents used in hand sanitisers saying scents are loaded with toxic chemicals. Companies are not required to disclose the ingredients that make up their ‘secret scents’. Synthetic fragrances contain phthalates which are endocrine disruptors that mimic hormones and can alter genital development. The inclusion of parabens as a preservative is a further ingredient that should be avoided according to the article.
The bottom line: read labels and stay away from harmful alcohol-based sanitisers and keep hands re-moisturised daily. FulviSafe Hand Sanitizer and Barrier Cream contain no alcohol, no toxins and no harmful chemical compounds (bleach) and so won’t dry out your skin and damage it. The active ingredient CHD-FA is clinically proven to kill 99.99% of all known germs and will keep your skin protected and nourished.