Naturopath Danielle Steedman wonders about her growing addiction to hand sanitisers, and how effective they really are at reducing the spread of nasty germs.
I have a confession. I think that I am addicted to my hand sanitiser.
I seem to be reaching for more and more often, after using the ATM, shopping trolley, public toilets. I just can’t seem to stop using. So, I thought I had better delve a little deeper and see if all this cleansing is actually doing anything for my health.
The thought of all those creeping infectious germs really gives me the willies. Especially at this time of year when coughs, colds and flu’s are lurking behind every door handle. Washing your hands with soap and water after touching contaminated surfaces (or people!) is well recognised as an effective way to reduce the spread of infectious illness however it is not always convenient to get to a sink, tap and bar of soap. So the popularity of waterless hand sanitisers is growing, especially for parents and carers.
Research suggests that alcohol based hand sanitisers help to kill off most bacteria and viruses, and to help reduce the spread of gastro and respiratory illnesses. This is particularly useful for schools, child care centres, hospitals and in areas if the home that can be breeding grounds for infectious disease.
There are many products on the market now, although it is advisable to check that the product has approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to be used as a hand hygiene product when making your choice.
And remember, although handy, these hand sanitisers don’t replace simple hand washing for some situations. Hand sanitisers are not effective against bacterial spores, non-enveloped virus (such as hepatitis A and polio), tropical parasites and protozoan oocysts.
So, I feel justified in my hand bag selection of hand sanitisers but think that when I’m home nothing beats good old soap and water for keeping my hands healthy and clean. Plus it keeps my inner germ-a-phobe happy!
References available upon request