Chances are if you've lived on planet earth during 2020/2021 you have used hand sanitiser. And whilst we have good intentions for using this convenient little product by reducing the spread of germs and disease, hand sanitisers can sometimes do our health harm rather than good.
Many people are unaware of the high alcohol content with most hand sanitisers consisting of 60-90% alcohol. The National Poison Data System (NPDS) conducted a study from 2011-2014 which showed that adverse health effects were far more likely, and more severe for formulations that include alcohol than those without. With the most common types of reported side-effects being irritation of the eyes and mouth, vomiting, conjunctivitis, abdominal pain and persistent cough. Rarely reported side effects were more severe and included coma, seizure, low blood sugar, metabolic acidosis, and decreased respiratory function. (3) Other reported common side effects of regular hand sanitiser use include:
Regular use of hand sanitisers can cause skin sensitivity including itching, burning, dry and flaky skin due to the high amounts of alcohol used in the formulations. These symptoms can increase to include redness, dryness and even peeling of skin, especially if hand sanitisers are used too often. With this in mind it is recommended that areas of the body that should be avoided are eyes, ears, mouth, nose and genital areas. This is especially important when it comes to baby’s and young children due the sensitivity of their skin.
Alcohol & Children
There has been growing concern about the use of high alcohol hand sanitiser formulations and children and possible consumption due ot the enticing scent including vanilla, apple and citrus.
Many hand sanitisers contain the chemical Triclosan which acts as a disinfectant, preservative and antiseptic. There was concern that widespread use of tricolsan has lead to the emergence and proliferation of harmful bacteria labelled as super-bugs that are resistant to antibiotics (1) . This creates a significant community wide danger and especially in populations including the elderly, baby’s and young children and immunosuppressed adults.
Triclosan has not only been linked to antibiotic resistance but also to hormone disruption that can have a devastating effect on reproduction and development due to negative effects on thyroid and oestrogen levels (2) Thankfully the European Commission banned tricolsan from cosmetics including hand sanitizers in the EU in 2014, however it is still important to be aware of other products containing this harmful chemical including hand sanitisers that are purchased from outside the region.
If you love the convenience of a hand sanitizer but aren’t loving the sound of all of the above side-effects then we recommend trying a few effective options. from some of our favourite clean & green brands:
+ Sans [ceuticals] Moisture + Shield: a moisturiser and hand sanitiser in one! Protect yourself from the world around you whilst also saving your hands from the usual dryness, flaking and cracking that often comes along with high-performing sanitisers. Lab-tested to kill 99.9% of microbes, it also delivers an abundance of nourishing facial-grade ingredients including medical-grade Manuka Honey, Vitamin B5, and Kawakawa extract to ensure your hands are healthy and hydrated!
+ Bondi Wash Mist Sprays: most hand sanitisers contain 70%+ alcohol in order to be effective. Unfortunately this also makes them tough on hands and can lead to cracks, drying and flaking. The Bondi Wash Mist Sprays use the power of Australian botanicals combined with only a very small amount of alcohol (<10%) making them gentle on hands whilst also being lab tested and proven to 99.9% of germs.
+ Bondi Wash Hand Spray: comes in a beautifully designed bottle that conveniently fits into your handbag, nappy bag or man-bag! The naturally anti-bacterial, low- alcohol formulation is lab-tested and proven to kill 99.99% of germs naturally whilst being gentle on your skin. This non- drying formula is enriched with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to soothe and soften the skin.
Want to know more about harmful chemicals in everday products? Read our article on 7 Tips For Reducing Your Exposure To Chemicals.