Debunking Myths About Hand Sanitizers

Debunking Myths About Hand Sanitizers

Health     Hand Sanitizer     Coronavirus     COVID-19

When it comes to staying healthy, there are several precautionary steps one can take. As the Coronavirus continues spreading to all areas of the world, proper hand hygiene is at an all-time priority. Although common knowledge, washing your hands is viewed as the most effective manner of killing bacteria. The use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also encouraged by health organizations and experts alike especially during times of the year when sickness is most common.

However, unlike soap and water, the myths and misconceptions surrounding hand sanitizer are varied and confusing. With millions of people living on edge, understanding how these products work is the best way to clarify any lingering misconceptions.

One of the most common and longstanding misconceptions about hand sanitizers is that it causes antibiotic resistance. An antibiotic is defined as a substance used to treat infections by killing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria and are administered via injection, orally, or topically.


It should be noted that hand sanitizers do not fall into the antibiotic category because it is applied directly to the skin but is not a treatment for infections. And while there are antibiotics that can be applied topically, the presence of alcohol means that hand sanitizers quickly kill a broad range of germs while also quickly evaporating from the skin.


The quick evaporation of hand sanitizers means that germs do not have the chance to become resistant. According to the CDC, the real cause of antibiotic resistance is repeated and unadvised use of antibiotics. So far, there is no evidence that bacteria is able to develop a resistance to alcohol.

Hand sanitizer formulations can be broken down into two major categories: alcohol-based and non-alcohol based. When a formula lacks the active ingredient, alcohol, the antimicrobial efficacy of that formula is very different. In other words, while non-alcohol based hand sanitizers can eliminate germs, they may not produce the results that consumers want and are expecting.  


In the past, non-alcohol based hand sanitizers attracted safety concerns due to the inclusion of triclosan in its formula. Past studies have shown that triclosan may interfere with the endocrine system and also be a major contributor to antibiotic resistance. The FDA now requires that triclosan not be used in any products that are applicable to skin.


A hand sanitizer also has to deliver consistency of performance and overall quality after several uses. Because alcohol can dry skin out, every hand sanitizer has undergone months of testing and quality inspections to ensure the best experience.

Sanitizers containing alcohol also have to account for customers who are sensitive to harsh smells. Some sanitizers manage to combat the smell of alcohol by using different fragrance types.


The ultimate goal of all hand sanitizers is to provide a long-lasting barrier against viruses. And while the end result may look similar, each formula is different.

When it comes to keeping your hands clean, do not cut corners. Many hand sanitizer companies have added to this misinformation by claiming that a dime sized amount of sanitizer is all a person needs to keep their hands clean. Research has shown that using a dime sized amount of sanitizer is not enough to efficiently coat all areas of the hand.


To coat both hands, the average person needs about a quarter sized amount of solution. However, depending on the size of your hand, you may need to add a little more to cover all areas. When a person fails to apply enough hand sanitizer, germs will take advantage of this reprieve and proceed with spreading.

Because of its portability, hand sanitizers are a popular option for those who are constantly on the go. Although used by millions, many do not understand how to properly apply it to their hands. We’ve all made the mistake of putting a drop or two of sanitizer in our hands, clapping them together and moving on with our business. While you think that you’ve saved time by cutting corners, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice.

Research has shown that you should spend at least 15 seconds applying and rubbing hand sanitizer into your hands. During this time, make sure to cover the palms, back of the hands, in between fingers, and over the nails.


If you were to measure the time it takes to wash your hands with soap and water and compare it to hand sanitizer application, it would be neck and neck.

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Another long-standing myth is the notion that hand sanitizers kill all germs on your hands. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers work by quickly eliminating transient or illness causing germs. During the process of eliminating transient germs, hand sanitizers will also dispose of resident germs, otherwise known as “good germs”.


However unlike transient germs (which are not native to the skin), resident germs grow back extremely quickly. This quick growth means that resident germs remain a part of the hand’s microbiota.

While there are numerous benefits to using hand sanitizer, it should not be considered a permanent replacement for soap and water. Hand sanitizers are best used for situations where a person’s hands are not exposed to toxic chemicals or dirt. For example, when exiting a grocery store and heading back to your vehicle, having hand sanitizer present is a great way to cleanse your hands after opening your car door.  


Hand sanitizer should not be used when there is visible dirt on your hands. Because of its fast acting nature, the sanitizer may do a good job of removing the top layer of dirt but will have evaporated before deeply cleaning the skin.


Soap and water is still considered the gold standard of hand hygiene and maintenance. Because soap first removes grease and fats and then washes them away, it can be used for any possible circumstance. Whether taking out the garbage, using paint, or dealing with toxic chemicals in a lab, soap and water makes the clean up process incredibly simple.

Young children have skin that is very soft and delicate which causes many parents to shy away from using products like hand sanitizers. Although there is always the possibility of alcohol related absorption, the key for using hand sanitizers with children under 6 is moderation. Since young children have smaller hands, adjust the amount of sanitizer to fit each child. As with anything related to young children, make sure to monitor them intently to avoid possible accidents such as ingestion or contact with the eyes.  


Use hand sanitizer as a way of quickly cleaning your child’s hands before the use of soap and water.

There are several people out there that feel as though paying for hand sanitizer is an unneeded expense. Containing few ingredients, the notion that a little experimentation is all you need to keep your hands clean and save money is dangerous. And while anyone can technically make a hand sanitizer at home, creating one that is effective takes careful planning and execution.

In order for a hand sanitizer to be considered effective, it needs to have (at least) 60% alcohol. Creating a formula that contains 60% alcohol sounds simple in theory but is hard to execute. With measurements needing to be exact, if you’re under the mark, your sanitizer is as effective as water. Even professional chemists find it difficult to come up with a formula that is effective without proper resources and direction.  


Think of it this way, would you rather go to the dentist when you have a toothache or call a friend that has a vague idea of what they’re doing?


Saving money is always a great thing but not at the expense of your health and safety.

The general public tends to group all hand sanitizers into the same category. It is very true that some hand sanitizers dry out your skin but those issues are purely due to a poor formula and not the presence of alcohol. For example, MUSE Health’s hand sanitizer was developed for repeated use without causing drying or irritation. With a formula that contains skin soothing ingredients, MUSE Health’s sanitizer targets germs without deteriorating your skin.

Not only does it leave your hands feeling smooth but its lack of a strong scent means that your overall experience with the product is pleasant.

Hand Sanitizers are an incredibly powerful and accessible tool everyone can use to help fight off diseases. With COVID-19 showing minimal signs of slowing down, it’s important to fully understand not only what hand sanitizers are but how it can be used. Making sure to research hand sanitizers in order to find one that will accomplish the goal of keeping your hands clean is key.


While it does have limitations, hand sanitizers are a perfect supplement to the precautions government officials and experts have mandated. All these precautions were created to flatten the curve and ensure the safety of millions.