• Jennifer McCrackin

HEALTH: What happens to our bodies using hand sanitizer everyday? (Weight, Bones, Muscles, etc...)

While you're probably (and hopefully) not considering giving up hand-washing anytime soon, it's true that access to soap and water isn't always possible, like when you're riding public transportation, working outside, or shopping at the farmer's market. To that end, you've probably started relying on alcohol-based hand sanitizers to kill the germs on your hands, especially during seasons when illness rates are high. It certainly can ease your anxiety until you're close to a sink again! However, there are things that you should know about using hand sanitizer every day, as there could be some unpleasant side effects from doing so. If you're curious as to what those may be, read on to find out!

You Can Protect Yourself The primary reason that people use hand sanitizer is, rather obviously, to kill bacteria and viruses. That's because it's a vehicle for alcohol, according to Kristina Duda, a registered nurse. "Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is simple to use, convenient, and often easy to find," she penned in an article for Verywell Health. "Alcohols have long been known to kill microbes by dissolving their protective outer layer of proteins and disrupting their metabolism." That's good news for the health-conscious commuter, for sure.  Duda cautions, however, that using hand sanitizer isn't a substitute for washing your hands, as it can't do as much as soap (NOT Anti-Bacterial soap) , water, and proper handwashing technique. "Hand sanitizer can help kill microbes, but it isn't effective on all germs," she continued. Sorry, germophobes! Duda added that it will do nothing for the other substances that may be on your hands, so that's where the buck stops. It's also important to apply sanitizer properly for it to be as effective as possible, too, said Duda. So make sure you're using the right amount, fully coating both of your hands, and rubbing your hands together until it dries. Using hand sanitizer every day can disrupt your internal Microbiome and lead to weight gain, immune system compromise and metabolism slow down

One thing hand sanitizer is especially good at is killing microbes, which is how it keeps people safe from a wide variety of illnesses. However, sanitizer is actually a little too good at killing bacteria, according to microbiologist Jonathan Eisen. "One aspect of hand sanitizers that is usually overlooked is that they can affect bodies' microbiomes in a few ways, and some of these ways could be bad," he revealed in an interview with Popular Science. That's because it kills off bacteria that's beneficial for keeping our bodily functions in order. Because hand sanitizer can wreak havoc on our healthy bacterial communities, Eisen advises against using it every day. "I recommend that people use hand sanitizers with caution, and only if really needed," he added. So if you're just hanging around your house or aren't coming into frequent, close contact with other people, you can probably just stick to handwashing. If you use hand sanitizer every day, you may create stronger bacteria

Hand sanitizer can be a culprit in potentially dangerous conditions. So, if you're using it liberally every day, that can become problematic, as noted by board-certified internal medicine physician Seema Sarin. "According to the CDC, hand sanitizer with antibacterial ingredients may also contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria," she explained to The List. In order to prevent creating those scary little microbes, washing your hands with soap and water instead of reaching for the hand sanitizer should always be your default, if at possible. What's so scary about antibiotic-resistant bacteria anyway? According to the CDC, these pathogens have developed the ability to tolerate the drugs that otherwise should be able to kill them. That means if you catch one of these bugs, your normal course of antibiotic medication won't be effective at clearing them from your body. That's the case for the 2.8 million Americans who get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria or fungi annually, of which 35,000 die. Yikes!  You can still get sick if you use hand sanitizer every day

The CDC asserts that hand sanitizer does effectively kill germs and is a good alternative to soap and water when one is unable to wash their hands. Still, hand sanitizer isn't a magical elixir — regardless of what the bottle claims. As registered nurse Kristina Duda pointed out, you can't always trust the claims of hand sanitizer makers. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken legal action against some hand sanitizer companies for making unproven claims against salmonella, e. Coli, Ebola, rotavirus, influenza, and MRSA," Duda revealed in an article for Verywell Health.

That doesn't mean hand sanitizer is ineffective, though, as Duda noted that some science is on the side of hand sanitizer manufacturers. "At the same time, though, studies are beginning to suggest that alcohol-based hand sanitizers may be effective at killing some of these germs," she continued. Duda added, however, that some manufacturers remain in need of FDA approval, so any claims they make can't be trusted. And, as is often the case, more research is needed. Your hands may not get clean enough if you use hand sanitizer every day

Let's say you've been working in the garden and your hands are covered in dirt. Or, perhaps you've been cleaning around your house and your hands are visibly showing the grime you've been accumulating. When it comes time to clean your hands, don't reach for the sanitizer, revealed Graham Snyder, infectious disease specialist and medical director of infection prevention at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not remove dirt, and are less effective at killing bacteria and viruses when hands are soiled," the expert explained in an interview with Reader's Digest. "It's important to use soap and water if your hands need to be cleaned of dirt." That same rule applies when you've been in especially germy situations, such as changing a diaper, taking out the trash, or cleaning the litter box. The CDC would rather you opted for soap and water instead of sanitizer, as the former is just more effective in those situations.  Can using hand sanitizer every day impair your muscles?

While some of the negative side effects of using hand sanitizer every day are relatively minor, some of them can be significantly more concerning. One alarming impact hand sanitizer can potentially have on your body is impairing your muscles — that is, if it contains triclosan, which many sanitizers do. According to an article in The Atlantic, researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of California, Davis found that triclosan prevented muscular contraction just 10 to 20 minutes after exposure. It also reduced both grip strength and heart function in mice, and impaired the swimming ability of fathead minnow larvae. While the implications of the study don't pose much of a threat to healthy people, those with heart failure could experience dangerous muscle impairment due to triclosan. Wild animals may also be vulnerable, which isn't good news for their survival rates if exposed. Using hand sanitizer every day may increase your risk of osteoporosis

Using hand sanitizer with triclosan every day could spell trouble, especially for women. According to Dr. Yingjun Li of Hangzhou Medical College in China, the chemical can also have an impact on your bone health — and not a good one.

"Triclosan exposure may be a risk factor for lower bone mineral density and osteoporosis," they revealed in an interview with Reuters. "The evidence was stronger in postmenopausal women than in premenopausal women." So the older you get, the more of an issue this could become. Li and a team of fellow researchers reviewed data from nearly 2,000 women in the United States. From that, they extracted that women with high amounts of triclosan in their urine were more likely than their counterparts to have osteoporosis by two and a half times. That's a significant difference! As triclosan can also be found in some soaps, make sure you're read those labels carefully.

Helpful Advice

Try taking bottled water, small soap bottles and napkins with you to use when you are on the go. Take your time massaging in the soap to kill those germs, there is no rush to stay healthy. Wear gloves if possible wherever you go and know that the world will get through this time if we take care of ourselves. Happy Living! Learn More...


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