Experts have warned that sanitising hands too frequently can actually raise the risk of infection as doing so breaks down the skin’s natural protective barrier.
The Covid-19 outbreak has brought about a heightened sense of urgency with regard to combating the spread of pathogens. This, in turn, has lead to the hoarding of disinfecting products such as alcohol, anti-bacterial wipes, and hand sanitisers. However, in the wake of the significant increase of the use of these products, health experts are now warning that disinfecting the hands with sanitiser too often can make one more likely to be at-risk of infection due to skin problems.
According to a recent article by the Japan Times, the hands contain harmless bacteria which are actually responsible for fighting off certain pathogens, which is why the excessive disinfecting of the hands can weaken the natural barrier against diseases.
Aside from this, products such as alcohol and hand-sanitisers can cause the hands to become rough, as the disinfectants break down the skin’s natural oil and water barriers. Furthermore, the chemicals within these products can potentially cause skin irritations. Because interfering too much with the skin’s natural barrier can increase its vulnerability, a representative from Kao Corp., a chemical and cosmetics company, has said that it is better to wash hands with soap and water.
“Dry and damaged skin could become a hotbed of disease bacteria and also increase the risk of viruses entering the body through cuts in the skin,” she said. “To prevent infection, it is much more important to wash hands with a moderate amount of soap for more than 30 seconds in an effective manner than to wash hands several times a day.”
The spokeswoman also stressed the importance of drying hands with a clean towel or a paper towel as it is easier for bacteria to fasten onto wet hands. She also urged people to use a moisturiser in order to fortify the protective natural barrier of the skin.
However, according to a report by Metro.co.uk, Young LDN aesthetician Sara Waterman pointed out that though there are downsides to using hand sanitisers, given the solemnity of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still safer to use them than to risk getting infected with the novel coronavirus.
Ms Waterman suggested the use of hand cream as a means to thwart the negative side-effects of the frequent use of sanitiser, as such a nourishing product could aid in the maintenance of the skin’s natural moisture.
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