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The help and hype of hand sanitizer

By Ben Stopka
On October 19, 2016

Graphic by Jonathan Konga.

Flu season is near and students at Kirkwood Community College may be scrambling to keep themselves healthy. One of the most common methods people use for killing germs is using hand santizer. 

Hand sanitizer is effective in killing certain types of germs and might be worth the money. However, recent studies have been looking into if this substance is really worth the time, money and even the risk. The benefits of hand sanitizer are that it is easily accessible and it can be beneficial in killing germs that could enter the body making someone sick. The human being picks up a lot of bacteria in their day-to-day lives, especially on their hands. These antiseptics work well in preventing hand-to-mouth diseases.

According to Whole Health Insider, “Researchers followed 292 families who had one or more children in daycare. Half of the families received hand sanitizer and bi-weekly hand hygiene education materials for five months. The other half received only materials that promoted good nutrition.” After those five months, the first half of the families showed drastically reduced​ ​gastrointestinal illnesses and marginally lower rates of respiratory illnesses compared to the second group of families.

Consumers can find these gels and foams in portable tubes and dispensers in surplus around them, making it simpler to use than having to find and use a bathroom sink to wash your hands.  But is the luxury worth all that extra money, and can it cause other problems? As reported by the New York Times, a lot of hand sanitizers contain less than 60 percent alcohol, which is the minimum amount the FDA suggests when using a substance like that.

Hand sanitizer is an easy and quick solution but it is not definitive. Anahad O'Connor said in a New York Times blog post that “the best strategy may be washing hands with plain old soap and water” and the CDC reiterates this on their website, “Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. But, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water.”


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