Hand sanitisers are giving you portable protection, but are typical hand sanitisers causing more issues then they're solving?

Raise your hand if you're lucky enough to own a bottle of alcohol based hand sanitiser. Just one problem: There's a good chance that hand is dry and cracked if you're using alcohol based hand sanitisers. Alcohol based hand sanitisers come with unwanted side effects and only provide a flash kill of protection for up to two minutes after use. We've asked some medical professionals what sort of effects they can cause. 

1.  Increased risk of Eczema

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the TGA recommends washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if they are not available, using a hand sanitizer that is effectively proven to kill 99.99% of germs. Following that advice is essential, but increased contact with irritants and allergens may increase the risk of hand dermatitis or 'eczema.' This commonly manifests on the skin with redness, dryness, cracks, and even blisters that cause itch or pain. 

It's important to not overdo the alcohol based sanitizer and to moisturize after every use," advises dermatologist Peterson Pierre, M.D., of the Pierre Skin Care Institute.

"Using a moisturiser, ideally containing mineral oil or petrolatum, can help prevent hand dermatitis. While moisturizer should be applied immediately after hand washing, this is not the case when using a hand sanitizer. Individuals should rub their hands together for about 15-30 seconds covering all surfaces with hand sanitizer until the hands are dry, and then apply a moisturizer," says Dr. Nelson.

2. Repeated use can cause skin irritations

"Alcohol based hand sanitisers are antiseptic products—they are formulated to disinfect the skin," says Vanessa Thomas, a cosmetic chemist, and founder of Freelance Formulations. "The primary disinfecting ingredient in alcohol hand sanitiser formulas is ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, and they are formulated along with thickener softeners and sometimes fragrances to curtail the strong smell of alcohol. Frequent use of it can cause skin irritation, or dry out the skin. If you have sensitive skin, the effects can be worse. The drying out is caused by alcohol."

"Washing hands with warm water and soap are the best way to kill any germs, but there are times when you don't have access to a sink and soap," says Thomas. "If you cannot minimise your hand sanitiser use, a good idea is to follow up with a moisturizing regimen or to choose a sanitiser that can help moisturise your hands. Dry skin is caused by a lack of water content in the skin. A moisturizer with humectants and occlusives is best. Occlusives help to create a film over the skin to hold the moisture in, and humectants (hyaluronic acid is an example of one) help to attract water to the skin."

3. Some Formulations Can Affect Fertility

"Some hand sanitisers are composed of alcohol, such as ethyl alcohol, as an active ingredient that functions as an antiseptic," says Dr. Chris Norris, a chartered physiotherapist and neurologist and Clinical Associate Professor at The University of California, of sleepstandards.com. These active ingredients can have a higher risk of infertility. 

4. Only provides protection for up to 2 minutes

As many alcohol hand sanitizers contain very high levels of alcohol, they are formulated to only provide a "flash kill". This means within 2 minutes after use, the anti-bacterial protection has evaporated and will leave you and your family vulnerable to recontamination. So what happens when you touch another surface? 

Ayers & Co products have been specifically formulated with an alcohol free formula and are made from organic compounds. The advanced chemistry not only allows continuous protection on skin for up to 24 hours but it also gives users a delightful lime and coconut fragrance that leaves the hands feeling fresh and moisturised.

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