Sanitisers are not new to the market. They have existed as a meek substitute to simple hand washing for ages. The probable reasons they came into the market was because they were handy and one did not need to look for a washbasin and also because water and soap were not available at all times everywhere. It was a big hit especially among children and they took pride in ‘sharing’ a few drops before lunch breaks in school, but with COVID-19, this product has been in great demand, so much so that it is referred to as the liquid guard against the virus.
We have all started using sanitisers of various brands and some of us are also hoarding them. But are sanitisers the best remedy against a virus? Is it indeed a requirement to stock it up and use it as a substitute for washing our hands? Complacency has started creeping in, as the latter is more time taking and ‘cumbersome’ as against a few magic drops. Companies that propagate sanitisers assure us that they are ‘antibacterial’ and ‘antimicrobial’ but many consumers feel that they have the potential to resist the COVID virus. They are most definitely useful in hospitals and health care centres to help prevent the transfer of virus at an individual level but beyond that, it has not been proven that they are more effective than hand washing. Right now, they are used more for convenient cleaning. We explore some of the harmful effects of excessive use of sanitizers on our skin.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences-Patna (AIIMS-P) has claimed that overuse of sanitisers can lead to eczema or dermatitis. These sanitizers have greater quantities of ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol and ‘triclosan”. They may be effective in killing the virus but can also react adversely on the skin. Frequent use of hand sanitizers also thins out the top layer of the skin. With it, there can be deeper penetration of UV rays. This may be a catalyst to early ageing of the skin or cause pigmentation. Overuse of sanitizers can also cause the skin around the nails to get inflamed and swollen. This can directly lead to discolouration of nails. It is advisable to consult an online dermatologist at the earliest when you experience these symptoms.
It is a fascination for young children to get drawn towards the few drops and use it repeatedly as most of them are perfumed. But this is indeed not ideal. Experts claim the effect of overuse of sanitizers can be even more on young children since their skin is more sensitive to the chemicals.
Some of the artificial fragrances used are strong chemicals which are not mentioned on the label. When we use them, inadvertently it can cause allergies and itching to sensitive skin and hormonal disturbances to the body that are best treated by online dermatologists. Prolonged use and then touching your eyes can also cause irritation and redness. Using the sanitisers in large quantities (as many may believe that more quantity would mean quicker elimination of the virus) and then eating food could be dangerous as it will lead to oral consumption leading to liver and kidney ailments!
There is no substitute for washing hands with soap by rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Only if you have no access to the soap and a sink should you reach for a bottle of sanitiser, so when you are at home, keep the bottle at bay.
Even if there is an adverse situation and one must use the liquid repeatedly, it is advised to rub your hands so much so that there is complete evaporation and then moisturise in order to prevent drying and cracking of the palms. In certain cases, it is best to reach out to an online dermatologist if your work forces you to use the liquid on a daily basis. Although sanitizers are a boon, and there is no denial in that, it is important to not turn it into a bane.