Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hand Sanitizer: An Obsession

This morning on Morning Living (SiriusXM Ch 110) they were talking about skincare in winter. The doctor that was as guest spoke about people at her gym using hand sanitizer in between each cardio machine. She explained this is not only excessive but it damages your hands. Basically you are just sanitizing the dirt on your hands. Also, it can lead to cracking and small cuts that make the issue worse--and leads to infection. Another thing that was discussed was the overuse of things like Neosporin (that can lead to being allergic to that product).

This brings up several things in my mind. Every office in my company is equipped with a GIANT jar of hand sanitizer. The first thing I did when I moved in was to throw it away. This morning's show also explained that hand moisturizer in between washing of hands is really key. If your hands get dry and cracked in winter and you touch your face that is really how nasty germs get spread. They spoke about using a hand sanitizer after riding the subway is one thing but using it all day long is actually doing more harm than good.

Some hand sanitizers have nasty things in them (chemicals that are known hormone distruptors that are outlawed in places like Europe and Canada but okay here in the US). Others are mostly alcohol which is extremely drying to the skin. Now I know parents of small children are going to get upset by what I'm saying. "What, I should not carry hand sanitizer in my diaper bag or purse?" No. And no. Just wash your hands when you need to, be careful to use hand cream in between washings and keep any small cuts clean. I highly recommend a cream by Aveda or even Curel for the office. That way it does not smell funky and is not greasy for keyboard use.

Listen to the experts and the doctors. They say not to use hand sanitizer. The last time I was sick (knock on wood) was January 2011. I work with germy college students and just wash my hands on a regular basis. I also carry moisturizer with me. You can bet I don't squirt sanitizer on my hands in between each machine at the gym. Just use the wipes to wipe off the machine and move on. If hand sanitizer works why is everyone around me (that has it on their desk) sick? It's not the germs on your hands, it's when you stick your finger in your eye....sanitizing the dirt already on your hands is 0 help.

Stay well this winter. Or as my doctor says to me: "Be well." If you use hand sanitizer I'd love to hear from you. Did you know you are actually drying out your top layer of skin and just sanitizing the dirt on your hands?


  1. The spin instructor this morning was telling us all to be sure and drink lots of water. After class, I told her that I certainly agree that it's a fine thing to drink plenty of water, but you should then be sure you have some moisturizing hand lotion. Why's that? Chain reaction. Drink lots of water => pee a lot => wash your hands a lot => dry skin on your hands => get some hand lotion.

    And I'm with you: to hell with hand sanitizer. They're mostly full of alcohol, and they stink; we're using so many antibacterial things, we're bound to be accelerating the evolution of resistant pathogens; and we have an immune system for a reason -- put that sucker to work!

  2. Jim, I'm so glad you chimed in. This was a doctor observing strange behavior at her gym and I was curious what gym employees think or observe. My gym is not so great about changing the wipes near the cardio machines and adding more soap to the dispensers in the locker rooms so I don't think the overuse of hand sanitizer is seen much there.

  3. Hand sanitizers are particularly important in places which are unhygienic and where there are the potential for a number of germs to be spread. Hand sanitizers are effective methods as they kill 99% of germs preventing the germs from spreading.
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  4. Thanks for commenting, Larry. Just make sure to moisturize after. It's the cracks and dryness that can really cause a problem germ spreading-wise according to the experts.

  5. hi very nice information and very nice, I'm so glad you chimed in. This was a doctor observing strange behavior at her gym and I was curious what gym employees think or observe.

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    1. Hi John, thank you for stopping by. I really appreciate your feedback! I see a lot of strange behavior at my gym. There's the folks that over sanitize and those that don't even clean the machines after use. It's from one extreme to another...