High School High School Society and the World TSS

Hand Sanitizers or Water and Soap?

                  Hand sanitizers are commonly used all over the world, whether it is at home, at school, or at an office, . Mostly during flu season, people use it to reduce the amount of germs on their hands. However, there is much debate about its effectiveness since there are actually harmful or useless effects of it. Although most people already know the benefits of utilizing it, many are not aware of the harm that it can do, when in some cases, it is much safer to scrub your hands with soap and water rather than using a hand sanitizer. Washing your hands with soap is very effective when it comes to removing germs and preventing the spread of contagious microbes that causes illnesses. Washing effectively is also as important so that most of the germs are washed away. 


                                                         Photo from handwashing

                 Many studies have proven that using hand sanitizers does not prevent feared illnesses, influenza, and norovirus [3]. A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested the effectiveness of hand sanitizers in long-term care facilities in New England. The results have shown that the workers that use hand sanitizers as a routine had hand hygiene that was six times more likely to get involved with norovirus than workers who did not use hand sanitizers as much. Norovirus infections, which are highly contagious, can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea . Using hand sanitizers do not kill difficile, a microbe which causes severe diarrhea [1].

                Another study by a team of researchers from the University of Virginia, tested more than 1,000 volunteers; half of the people used antiviral hand sanitizer every three hours and the other half did not. The results have shown that the hand sanitizer users had 42 common cold infections and 12 cases per 100 people, while the other group had 51 rhinovirus infections and 15 flu cases per 100 people. From these studies, it is clear that solely using hand sanitizers is very ineffective [1].

                 Aside from some of the harmful health effects that it has, the use of hand sanitizers can also damage skin because of the high alcohol concentration present within. It can make the skin rougher than normal and irritate it. The readily-used chemical triclosan, contained in hand sanitizers, also increases the risk of heart and muscular health [2].

                 Despite the aforementioned consequences of using hand sanitizers, it does not go without saying that they should be completely abandoned. Whether you are at a place nowhere near a sink or too lazy to get out of bed, using a hand sanitizer is sometimes the only option. 


[1] Vogel, Lauren. Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 Sept. 2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168661/.

[2] Sampath, Pavitra. “8 Reasons You Will Stop Using Hand Sanitisers Regularly.” Read Health Related Blogs, Articles & News on Diseases & Conditions at TheHealthSite.com, TheHealthSite, 27 Apr. 2015, http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/hand-sanitizers-9-reasons-you-should-think-before-using-them/.

[3] Siddiqui, Aayesha. “Hand Sanitizers: Are They Really Worth It?”CommonHealth RSS. N.p., 12 Jan. 2012. Web. 07 Jan. 2015.


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