Regular Use of Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers Will Not Cause Skin Damage

Regular Use of Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers Will Not Cause Skin Damage

Regular Use of Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers Will Not Cause Skin Damage: Olatunji Koolchap, an Independent Pharmaceutical Consultant, has said that using alcohol-based hand sanitizers on a regular basis will not harm the skin of the hand.

According to Koolchap, there is no scientific evidence that has proven that the alcohol content in hand sanitisers can cause abrasion of the skin layer.

Recall that there are recent reports in the media alleging that frequent use of hand sanitisers and other alcohol-based sanitisers can cause abrasion of the skin.

Speaking in an interview, Koolchap said the main ingredient in hand sanitiser is alcohol with a minimum of 70 per cent concentration while other ingredients are only added to create flavour and to make it more amenable to the skin and not to erode the hand.

The pharmacist noted that if hand sanitiser was eroding the hand, it would not have been registered by the National Agency for Food Drug and Administration and Control as well as the Food and Drug Administration of the United States of America.

Koolchap said, “The 70 per cent alcohol concentration in hand sanitiser can never have any negative effect on the hand.

“Alcohol is used in cleaning wounds. Iodine also has alcohol. It is not true that the regular use of hand sanitiser erodes the skin. Hand sanitiser has an antiseptic effect on germs on the surface of the hand and it kills those germs 99.9 per cent. So, I don’t believe the claim because it is not scientific.”

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, many studies have found that sanitisers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95 percent are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers 16,20. 

“Cleaning hands at key times with soap and water or hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to those around you.

“Hand sanitisers without 60-95 percent alcohol may not work equally well for many types of germs; and merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright,” CDC noted.

But in a 2020 article published by a European social networking site for scientists and researchers, ResearchGate, the authors said frequent use of hand sanitisers can cause a skin reaction. 

The authors in the article titled, ‘Hand sanitisers: is over usage harmful?’, said sanitiser overuse creates an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the digestive system.

“As hand hygiene plays an important role in pandemic situations like COVID-19, people mostly rely on hand sanitisers than soap and water.

“The sanitising effect of sanitiser depends on the ingredients such as 60-95 per cent v/v alcohol, antiseptics, etc. The alcohol usually damages the skin by denaturation of stratum corneum proteins. 

“The repeated or frequent use of hand sanitisers can cause skin reactions- Irritant contact dermatitis and Allergic contact dermatitis with symptoms such as burning, irritation, itching, etc. 

“These effects can be reduced by using selected less irritating products, reducing skin irritation, use of moisturising skin products,” they said. 

The authors added, “As microbial flora also plays an important role in human health, sanitiser overuse creates an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the digestive system which leads to inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity, autism, etc. 

“We have to balance the benefit of sanitizer for preventing disease transmission and their potential misuse remains a challenge.”

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