Do Hand Sanitizer Lotions Really Work?



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You already know that keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to keep yourself and others healthy.

Simple hand washing with soap and water is the most effective in fighting germs, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes. When you’re on the go, a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60 percent alcoholic is a good substitute.

“Hand sanitizer remains important because it helps remove germs from your hands, so they don’t end up on your face,” says Jeffrey Cohen, MD, certified dermatologist and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine at New Haven, Connecticut. These products can help reduce your risk of colds and, in combination with vaccines, COVID-19 and the flu, adds Dr. Cohen.

But if you regularly use hand sanitizer, you know that this hygiene product has an unpleasant side effect: dry, cracked skin. This is why many people follow their hand sanitizer with moisturizer. Now, however, thanks to a slew of new products in drugstores, you may be able to take this two-step hygiene routine to one, or at least use less moisturizer after sanitizing your hands.

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How traditional hand sanitizers can irritate the skin

Alcohol in hand sanitizers can have a drying effect on the skin, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, associate professor of dermatology and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. If used excessively, hand sanitizers can disrupt the skin barrier. For people with eczema and others with sensitive skin, the skin barrier is already compromised, increasing inflammation and causing or worsening symptoms such as dryness, redness, flaking, and irritation, notes the National Eczema Association. Therefore, using hand sanitizers without hydrating the skin afterwards can worsen the symptoms of eczema on the hands.

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Why moisturizing hand sanitizers can help

“The latest generation of hand sanitizers is really a hybrid between skin care and sanitizers,” says Dr Zeichner. “They contain the same types of moisturizing ingredients as traditional hand moisturizers, to protect the skin barrier from the ingredients needed to kill the microorganisms that spread infection.”

“While you’re less likely to develop dryness and irritation when using moisturizing hand sanitizers, I still recommend being cautious and using traditional hand moisturizers,” adds. he does.

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4 tips for choosing a quality hydrating hand sanitizer

To choose a product that cleanses and restores moisture to the skin, pay attention to the ingredient list and follow these expert tips.

1. Eyeball, type and concentration of alcohol

“I’m always looking for ethyl alcohol, which is more effective than isopropyl alcohol at killing microorganisms,” says Karan Lal, MD, a certified dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in Hillsborough, New Jersey. While hand sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60 and 95 percent are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcoholic hand sanitizer, according to the CDC, stick to a disinfectant at the lower end of the scale is better for your skin. “I would avoid very high concentrations (over 85%) of alcohol because they are more drying,” says Dr Lal. “All you need is 60% ethyl alcohol. “

Separately, beware of the potentially hidden methanol content in some disinfectants. In July 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted on its website that some products imported from Mexico were contaminated with the ingredient, which was mislabeled as ethanol. “Methanol is toxic and its absorption can have serious health consequences, including blindness and death,” says Lal. The FDA is urging consumers to pay attention to the ingredient labels on these products and to avoid using products specifically known to contain methanol, which the agency lists on its website.

2. Consider Benzalkonium Chloride

If you have sensitive skin, consider an alcohol-free hand sanitizer. Benzalkonium chloride is an option, as it is an antiseptic agent that has been found to inactivate COVID-19. Still, it doesn’t kill as many infectious microorganisms as alcohol, Lal says. A study published in February 2021 in The Journal of Hospital Infections discovered that benzalkonium chloride deactivates COVID-19 on hands and surfaces. The researchers noted “several advantages” to its use over alcohol for hand sanitizing, including that it is “less irritating to the skin and non-flammable.” They also pointed out that healthcare workers may be more likely to adopt better hand hygiene practices with benzalkonium chloride hand sanitizer because it has fewer side effects than hand sanitizers. ‘alcohol.

3. Identify products containing moisturizers

In terms of inactive ingredients, Lal looks for squalene, glycerin, and coconut oil – “all of which help attract water and maintain moisture,” he says. Nazanin Saedi, MD, co-chair of the Center for Laser and Aesthetic Surgery at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting in Pennsylvania, agrees, noting that glycerin is the main ingredient she looks for in moisturizing hand sanitizers.

4. Avoid perfumes

This tip is essential for people with eczema and anyone with sensitive skin, as the scent can be irritating, says Dr. Saedi. It goes back to that compromised skin barrier that Zeichner mentioned earlier. “Perfumes can be irritating,” Saedi says, “and with the barrier compromised, you may be prone to exacerbating eczema.”

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4 moisturizing hand sanitizers dermatologists recommend

1. Biossance squalane hand sanitizer

Lal recommends this hand sanitizer because it contains 70% ethyl alcohol, along with moisturizing squalane and vegan glycerin. It’s also fragrance-free, making it a great option for people with eczema or sensitive skin.

Buy it.

2. Hand sanitizer pipette

Another Lal’s favorite, this hand sanitizer from baby brand Pipette is hypoallergenic and contains 65% ethyl alcohol. The fragrance-free hand sanitizer also contains squalane derived from sugar cane for hydration.

Buy it.

3. Dove Deep Moisture Hand Sanitizer

This product is made from 61 percent ethyl alcohol of natural origin, in addition to moisturizers and emollients such as glycerin, butylene glycol, dimethicone and soybean (soybean) oil. Lal and Zeichner are both fans.

Buy it.

4. Vaseline Clinical Care Hand Sanitizer Lotion

Both Saedi and Zeichner recommend this alcohol-free disinfectant. “This hand sanitizer uses FDA approved benzalkonium chloride to keep hands sanitized, but helps keep skin hydrated and protected with glycerin and tapioca starch, forming a breathable seal on the skin.” , explains Zeichner.

Buy it.

RELATED: Should you DIY hand sanitizer? Experts weigh

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