Question 1: Are hand sanitizers safe? Shouldn’t I use anti-bacterial soaps?

Answer 1: Believe it or not, using a normal bar soap with lots of agitation and movement to lather for 45 seconds seems so counter-intuitive, but achieves almost the same results without killing your skin microbiome.

As a healthcare provider, there are different recommendations, and now hospitals are quickly making a U-Turn on the harsh chemicals because of the high-risk factor for their own employees. When nurses and medical practitioners develop skin/hand problems, it directly affects their bottom line because of the many worker’s compensation claims from absentee employees. Once their hands are compromised, they then become even more sensitized to the rubber and latex gloves, and they can’t do basic medical procedures. Add to that equation, the risk of their immune systems being jeopardized by going through the vicious cycle of topical steroids and another perfect storm is brewing.  

Question 2: What’s the big deal with my handy purse sanitizer that is so convenient?

Answer 2: They are made with at least 62% Alcohol or Triclosan – a very harsh chemical that the Food and Drug Association (FDA) issued a final ruling that these ingredients are not as safe as previously thought. They recommend regular bar soap with water and agitated scrubbing is just as good.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

Question 3: What about public restrooms?

Answer 3: For those of you that are already sensitized by any eczema, Contact dermatitis, psoriasis or skin lesions, please consider carrying around a little Ziplock baggie with a small travel-size bar of soap like DOVE for sensitive skin. That seems to be the prevailing go-to for those with severely sensitive skin. Don’t trust public restrooms that opt for the cheapest possible anti-bacterial soaps.