01 June 2011
By Lisa Antao
Hand sanitisers are getting increasingly popular these days. AT dispels some myths
Why are They Popular?
Hand sanitisers are a very convenient option to keep the hands clean while travelling or when water and soap are not available. They are said to kill bacteria by 99.99 per cent thus, widening their popularity. "While hand wash soap dispensers are still widely used, hand sanitisers are more popular now because besides keeping your hand germ-free, they avoid waste, keep the sink clean and are easy to install in washrooms and offices. They are also kinder to the environment, in that they do away with the use of paper towels," says dermatologist Dr Apratim Goel.
Any Harmful Effects?
Does excessive use have any harmful effects? Dr Goel says, "It’s important to know what hand sanitisers can and cannot do. For instance, while alcoholbased sanitisers can kill most bacteria and some viruses with membranes, they have no effect on bacterial or fungal spores or viruses without membranes. Also, they cannot remove dirt.
Moreover, the constant use of sanitisers can dry out the skin and cause cracks." General physician Dr Vimal Pahuja says, "Some people might develop an allergic reaction and suffer from a condition called contact dermatitis. This is true especially for those with sensitive skin. Otherwise, there are no such harmful effects. One should always opt for reputed brands." Hand sanitisers should be kept away from very young children, smokers and those with alcohol dependence. The denatured alcohol is a poison and is flammable.
Will it Lower One’s Immunity?
We’ve all grown up hearing that a little bit of dirt is good for you because it builds immunity. Actually this is true and if we use sanitisers all the time, our immune systems tend to get lulled into complacency and may not be ready to identify and kill serious diseases in the future.
Do Soap and Water Still Rule?
It is recommended that you use both soap and water, and hand sanitisers. That’s because hand sanitisers are a great option while outdoors, but one must not rule out washing hands with soap and water.