Hand Sanitizer... Friend or Foe?

| 2 Comments

Recently I have been hearing a lot about the differences between washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer as a substitute. As a student volunteer at the hospital, I am constantly using hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of infection. Most hand sanitizers advertise that they eliminate 99.9% of germs. Is this accurate? About.com wrote an article about how the hand sanitizer removes the outer layer of oil from your skin actually ridding the body of natural bacteria and not the kind that get you sick. The manufacturers test these products on inanimate surfaces and this is how they come to the conclusion that 99.9% of germs are killed by their product. Do you think this is ethical of them to advertise their product when it is not even tested for effectiveness on live tissue? Read the article to see your stance on the issue. Researchers are also coming to the conclusion that plain soap is just as effective as antibacterial soap in protection from bacteria related infection, and living in an ultra-clean environment may inhibit the development of the immune system in children. Why do you think this information is not advertised to us as consumers? We could be aiding in the development of a superbug by using too many antibacterial products just because as a society we are so afraid of bacteria and what may happen if we catch a cold. Our body has its own system of protection against disease and granted we need a little boost every once in a while from a medicine, we can't go overboard because of what we hear on tv commercials or programs that may have profit on their minds. Should we regulate what the media tells us when it comes to biofears? And if so, how?

2 Comments

The use of hand sanitizers and other soap dispensers that kill 99.9% of germs are not always necessarily great; it depends on what kinds of bacteria it removes in the process. I found a soap dispenser, Lysol Healthy No-Touch Hand Soap System, states that “the system’s antibacterial hand soap kills 99.9% of bacteria on hands,” –a lot of companies use this statistic as a selling point to their consumers, but is 99.9% elimination really good?
You know, at first, I thought it was great. That would mean that my hands were almost bacterial free. But when I took a microbiology lab, I realize that it was rather unhealthy. I remembered we did a lab on the effectiveness of hand washing; we compared the effectiveness with four different hand washing treatments (water only, regular soap and water, germicidal soap and water, hand-sanitizer). I thought this was a pointless lab experiment because I thought the germicidal soap, like most people, would be the most effective hand washing. The germicidal hand soap definitely removed a lot, if not all, the bacteria on our hands, but what most of us don’t realize is, is that this also removes microflora organisms. Microflora does not cause disease, but instead it participates in maintaining health. If these are removed, then we are more susceptible to diseases. By just washing our hand with just regular soap for a certain amount of time, we were able to remove most of the bacteria and the microflora remained.

I think a misconception many people make is that all bacteria is bad and many companies exploit that fear with their advertisement of 99.9% bacterial elimination as a way to sell their products. The way the companies advertise their products is not necessarily incorrect, because these soaps do remove 99.9% of germs, including the healthy bacteria. People end up buying their products because those statistics will enable them to remove something they tend to regard as being invasive and not part of the norm. I think the companies tell the truth but it is impartial in order to profit as a company. We cannot entrust the soap companies to discredit their product. Therefore, we need to educate and inform each other that not all bacteria are bad.

The use of hand sanitizers and other soap dispensers that kill 99.9% of germs are not always necessarily great; it depends on what kinds of bacteria it removes in the process. I found a soap dispenser, Lysol Healthy No-Touch Hand Soap System, states that “the system’s antibacterial hand soap kills 99.9% of bacteria on hands,” –a lot of companies use this statistic as a selling point to their consumers, but is 99.9% elimination really good?
You know, at first, I thought it was great. That would mean that my hands were almost bacterial free. But when I took a microbiology lab, I realize that it was rather unhealthy. I remembered we did a lab on the effectiveness of hand washing; we compared the effectiveness with four different hand washing treatments (water only, regular soap and water, germicidal soap and water, hand-sanitizer). I thought this was a pointless lab experiment because I thought the germicidal soap, like most people, would be the most effective hand washing. The germicidal hand soap definitely removed a lot, if not all, the bacteria on our hands, but what most of us don’t realize is, is that this also removes microflora organisms. Microflora does not cause disease, but instead it participates in maintaining health. If these are removed, then we are more susceptible to diseases. By just washing our hand with just regular soap for a certain amount of time, we were able to remove most of the bacteria and the microflora remained.

I think a misconception many people make is that all bacteria is bad and many companies exploit that fear with their advertisement of 99.9% bacterial elimination as a way to sell their products. The way the companies advertise their products is not necessarily incorrect, because these soaps do remove 99.9% of germs, including the healthy bacteria. People end up buying their products because those statistics will enable them to remove something they tend to regard as being invasive and not part of the norm. I think the companies tell the truth but it is impartial in order to profit as a company. We cannot entrust the soap companies to discredit their product. Therefore, we need to educate and inform each other that not all bacteria are bad.

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This page contains a single entry by rieh0027 published on November 11, 2010 7:14 AM.

Fear of the Annual Flu Vaccine was the previous entry in this blog.

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