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Are You Overusing Hand Sanitizer?

By Sara Butler

Germs are everywhere you go; you simply can't escape them. If you're concerned about getting sick from touching the things around you, then you're probably pretty fond of hand sanitizer. While hand sanitizer is a good tool to have your healthy corner, people do tend to use it a little too much. Plus, using it too much isn't good for the beneficial bacteria that live on your skin. Here are a few examples of times when you reach for hand sanitizer, but probably shouldn't.

When You Can Actually Wash Your Hands

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand sanitizer should only be used if you don't have access to good old-fashioned soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water actually removes the germs from your hands, something that hand sanitizer won't do.

Your Hands Have Visible Dirt on Them

If you're trying to clean dirt off your hands, then alcohol-based sanitizer is not the way to go. In fact, you're probably only going to make the problem worse by turning dried dirt into mud. Also, hand sanitizers are less effective in killing viruses and bacteria when your hands have dirt on them. So, if you've been outside gardening, playing sports, or anything else where your hands get dirty, then use soap and water to clean them.

If You've Been Handling Chemicals

Hand sanitizers simply aren't effective at removing harmful chemicals and contaminants from your hands. Studies have found that farm workers who used hand sanitizers instead of soap and water had higher levels of pesticides in their blood than those that don't use hand sanitizers. Anytime you're handing a chemical that is potentially hazardous to your health, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly afterward.

You Don't Need It

Has putting on hand sanitizer when you haven't touched anything or anyone becoming a habit for you? Well, it's a habit you should break. Overusing hand sanitizer can lead to the creation of resistant bacteria. Remember, bacteria are living things and they can learn and change in the environment around them. The more you use hand sanitizer, the more you're creating conditions where the bacteria will learn from it and grow resistant to it, then what good will it be to you? The takeaway? Reserve the use of it when you really need it.

Hand sanitizer can be a useful tool but only if you know when to use and when not to. So, tone it down and opt for soap and water when you can!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Los Angeles, Calif.

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