A recent study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health reports that using antibacterial soaps may promote allergies; a pretty horrible side effect of trying to stay healthy and clean. Researchers theorize that antibacterial hand soaps and sanitizers make us so clean and sterile that children who grow up using them don’t ever develop strong immune systems, and thus are more likely to develop allergies.
Even if you grew up without an ounce of Purell in sight, it’s still worth exercising caution when slathering your hands with antiseptics. Many sanitizers and soaps use triclosan, a synthetic antimicrobial agent that has some scary health risks, including thyroid disruption and developing resistant bacteria strains, according to the authors of No More Dirty Looks:
While it’s considered relevant for use in the antimicrobial soaps in hospitals β where people are at high-risk for contracting certain infections β there’s no data supporting that everyday use has any health benefits. To the contrary, there is concern that regular exposure could cause resistant strains of bacteria to form (similar to what happens when antibiotics are overused). It also stays in our bodies and in our water. It was found in human breast milk and plasma, and in more than one animal study it has impacted thyroid function.*
Thyroid problems and increased risk of allergy are enough to make us skip a hand-wash or two, but there are also times like flu season when we just don’t feel right without a spritz of hand sanitizer to keep our fellow subway-riders’ germs at bay. Here are a few of our favorite brands to stick on your hands:
MJ’s Herbals β Their first aid salve contains antiseptic herbs that are strong enough for use on wounds, but can also make a great cleansing hand balm.
Intelligent Nutrients β Their 100% organic hand sanitizer contains alcohol, but is also full of essential oils to kill bacteria and soften hands.
CleanWell β CleanWell’s products are 100% alcohol-free, and its ingredients are biodegradable and grown without fertilizers or pesticides.
Jao β Their multi-use hand refresher contains alcohol and herbal extracts, but no triclosan.
*quoted from No More Dirty Looks, pg. 56