Is it bad to use the hand sanitiser gels and sprays we’ve all got used to carrying around with us?
Well, no, it’s not bad when those sanitisers can be life-saving! A sanitiser with a high alcohol content can be very effective at disarming viruses that could otherwise be dangerous, even life-threatening.
If you can’t get access to hot running water, a little squirt of sanitiser could literally save your life.
But why do people say they’re bad for your skin?
Well, the answer is that they can be… but having irritated skin is a better option than getting the virus! So it’s mostly a question of putting up with the bad stuff and finding ways to make things better.
How are sanitisers bad for your skin? That’s down to the ingredients in the formulation:
- Alcohol (alcohol can damage the skin barrier by dissolving its vital natural oils)
- Perfume (scent/fragrance is notoriously irritant to sensitive skin)
- Dye (can also contain irritant substances)
- Triclosan (antibacterial agent associated with various problems, and isn’t effective against viruses)
There is an additional argument against hand sanitisers, which is that obliterating all germs and microbes actually weakens the immune system, especially the developing immune systems of little children, because we need to be challenged by dirt and bugs in order to build defences to them. The cleaner the world around us, the less our immune systems are stimulated, so when they need to click into action, they won’t be as effective.
However, in these times of crisis, these considerations have to be put aside in order to protect ourselves from getting ill from coronavirus. Boost your immune system with good nutrition, healthy lifestyle and stress-busting techniques, rather than avoiding sanitiser!
Of all ingredients, it’s alcohol that’s likely to be doing the most damage to your skin, as the same mechanism that lets it zap viruses - its ability to dissolve the fatty bonds that hold the virus together - is also able to dissolve sebum, the fatty substance the skin uses as a kind of mortar which builds a defence against moisture-loss. The more alcohol in a formulation, the more drying effect on your skin. But there are ways to mitigate the damage done! For more information about how to manage the hand cleansing when you’ve got sore or sensitive hands, see our blog Is Hand Sanitiser Safe For Eczema?
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with calendula and nettle, £19 for 200ml
Balmonds Skin Salvation with hemp and beeswax, from £7.99 for 30ml
Balmonds Intensive Hand Cream with hemp, sea buckthorn & chamomile, from £10.99 for 50ml
Balmonds 70% Hand Sanitiser Gel with tea tree and lemongrass (£8 for 100ml)
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.