NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Hand sanitizer. You squirt it, feel the cool tingling sensation, and spread it all over your hands. Then, you feel clean.
It sounds pretty simple as an alternative to washing your hands with soap and water. It’s quick, portable, and convenient, especially when you don’t have running water nearby. Hand sanitizer or hand antiseptic is a supplement that comes in gel, foam, or liquid solutions.
Hand sanitizer often has a form of alcohol, such as ethyl alcohol, as an active ingredient and works as an antiseptic. Other ingredients could include water, fragrance, and glycerin.
Other non-alcohol based hand sanitizers contain an antibiotic compound called triclosan or triclocarban. This ingredient can also be found in soaps and even toothpaste. These products are often labeled antibacterial, antimicrobial, or antiseptic soaps.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says triclosan could carry unnecessary risks, including some on this list, given that their benefits have yet to be proved.
Recent studies have raised questions about whether triclosan might be hazardous to human health, as studies on the compound are ongoing.
If you are a cleanliness-obsessed germophobe who has made a habit of frequently using hand sanitizer like lotion, you will want to know the dangers we’ve dug up.
Here are five hidden dangers of hand sanitizer that you may not know about, but should…
5. Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotics are effective against bacteria. But what happens if your body builds up resistance to antibiotics, and in turn promotes resistance to bacteria?
Triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Using hand sanitizers may actually lower your resistance to diseases by killing good bacteria, which helps protect against bad bacteria.
In a 2011 study by the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that health care employees who were most likely to use hand sanitizers over soap and water for routine hand washing were nearly six times more at risk for outbreaks of norovirus, which causes most cases of acute gastroenteritis.
Overexposure to antibiotics or improper antibiotic use can lead to bacterial resistance, making it more difficult or even impossible to treat.