Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hand Sanitizers

comments from Mercola readers:
I think what is worse than using antibacterial soaps is the theory behind using them: the "germ theory". Sorry folks I contribute to the spread of "germs" by not washing my hands. Despite this, I don't get sick and neither does my 11 mo son even when around other babies who are sick. I don't believe in the war on germs, that is why we have immune systems! People are so afraid of germs they are sanitizing their bodies in hopes that they won't get sick, well... this is causing them to be sick! Everyone has bacteria on their skin and in their bodies, you just need to have the good bacteria to fight off the bad. I drink Kombucha and eat cultured foods and I believe this is what cured my IBS. We also take Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil for Vitamin D and omega 3's. I believe those things are the best defense we have against pathogens... not hand washing.

Your skin is your first line of defense against any germs that you may touch.  Alcohol is drying and frequent use can cause your skin to crack. This could actually allow more germs to  gain access into your body through these cracks.
You can make your own sanitisers using cheap vodka and essential oils in a little spray bottle.  It probably is worth having one when out and about because so many people do not wash their hands.  When using public toilets I see about a third of women walking out without washing at all and some others only splash their fingertips with water.  Then, if you have washed your hands you have to touch the same door handle these e-coli transporters have just touched.  I observed this same behaviour at the hospital.  These days there are alcohol rubs on the wards for visitors to use.  Apparently people still don't all use them despite the fact that hospital caught infections can be killers.
My daughter and I have made hand sanitizer for a while using Vodka, Aloe Vera, Chlorophyll and a little essential oil.  No chemicals to speak of, it's wonderful and non drying.
I'm a little alarmed at the high use of hand sanitizers. I see people LIBERALLY slathering these chemicals over their hands all the time. It may turn out the stuff is perfectly safe, but have any long term studies been done??? Remember, if it's getting rubbed onto you skin it's going into your circulation.  I agree that it's helpful to use a hand sanitizer when it's just not possible to wash your hands, and also in the hospital where there is a constant need for excellent hand hygiene.  However, the level of use I have seen just seems excessive.

I was curious if sanitizers were checked out by EWG. So, I just went on their site to look at the data base. They do have it... Most of the different brands rated a 5 (Moderate risk).  Purell, which is the one I see most often, has several products mostly rated a 5. One of their sanitizers rated a 7 (high risk) though. At the level I see this stuff getting used, I think  a rating of 1 or 2 (low risk) would be better. of course a 0 rating would be best of all.  Ironmaiden, I like the idea of making your own with vodka. However, I have been told that a hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% alcohol. I don't know if that % is truly needed or not, but isn't vodka about 40%? Please let me know if you have any info on this, because making your own with vodka has got to be a lot less toxic.  Another question... How is it that bacteria will not become resistant to alcohol? I have heard of bacteria becoming resistant to chlorine. Unless that story turned out to be false, it would seem that anything overused could create a resistance. Dose alcohol kill 100% of bacteria or something?
---Current research shows that influenza (including H1N1) is transmitted by inhalation of airborne particles. Hand washing will do little to protect you from influenza.
----- I have a friend who has a friend that makes her own hand sanitizer because of a "fragile" child in their home. She says that most recipes over-dilute the alcohol, that it needs to be at least 60% alcohol to be effective. She mixes 5 cups of 91% Isopropyl alcohol with 2 cups 100% pure aloe gel (mix several minutes and it will begin to thicken and gel). You can add essential oils for fragrance, and there are some (like tea tree oil) that will enhance germ killing.
I have a spray bottle of H2O2 handy at home, too, that should be pretty effecitve. Dr. Mercola, your opinion????
If the child is so fragile, I'd wonder about using isopropyl alcohol. I looked that up in several different references, one of which said to use gloves when handling it (to prevent absorption, and to avoid removing the protective natural oils from the skin). That's in the wikipedia entry, which also describes it as relatively less toxic than formaldehyle (!) but twice as toxic as ethanol (which is what you'd find in vodka or scotch).
Symptoms of isopropyl alcohol poisoning include flushing, dizziness, central nervous system depression, nausea, etc. So if a fragile child has any of these symptoms already, it would be wise to avoid the isopropyl hand-sanitizers. The vodka with an essential oil sounds safer.
I believe I have found the solution to the cracked skin that I get from frequent washing in the winter. I started very carefully checking labels and steer clear of any soaps with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as an ingredient. A few weeks ago I noticed that my "Pure & Natural" soap that I had been using contained SLS. I don't know why I had never checked before but I hadn't. The soap is labeled as hypoallergenic and all natural. I already knew I was very sensitive to SLS because I get terrible canker sores if I use a toothpaste that contains it. So I threw out all my Pure & Natural Soap. I found soap without SLS at my local natural food co-op. The brand was Vermont Soap, I'm sure there are others that would work as well. I have found that you have to really scrutinize the labels. Some brands that make a big deal of being organic or earth-friendly still contain SLS. I guess this is because SLS is made from coconut so it is plant-based. It must be a matter of how it is processed because I have no problems with Coconut Oil but SLS just does terrible things to my skin.
So far I have had no cracked hands but I have very carefully eliminated all SLS. I changed soap, shampoo, dish liquid, laundry detergent, etc. It made a real difference for me.
I have heard that overusing these alcohol based hand sanitizers can cause drunkenness and inebriation in low body weight individuals (basically children).  I read the back of the sanitizer at work and it said not to use it on infants and children using it should be monitored by an adult.
My other concern is that especially children, need to build their immune systems by getting germs and dirt.  I personally don't use anti-bacterial products, and don't feel they are beneficial to children.
We use 20 drops of Grapefruitseed Extract in a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oils, then top with pure water.  GSE is antibacterial and safeer than any alternative....even vodka.  Alcohol is alcohol,  and I'd rather my family not use it on a regular basis.  We bought 2 oz. spray bottles in the sample/travel section and keep them filled in all of our cars.  Theives Oil and lavender are our favorites to use.  Try is a healthy alternative!

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