Hand sanitizers gained popularity in the 1990’s and now it is common practice to have one in your purse or close by. It is a parents’ best friend when someone wants to hold your baby or when you can’t tell if it is chocolate or poop on your kid’s hand.
People use hand sanitizers to replace washing your hands when you really don’t have the time or resources. Millions of people use it thinking that it kills germs and bacteria but is that really true?
Hand sanitizer was created in 1966 by Lupe Hernandez, who was training to be an RN. Hand sanitizer was mainly used in hospitals when it gained popularity in the 1990’s. It became common practice to carry around a travel sized hand sanitizer with you everywhere. It is so common that there are now fashionable holders for your sanitizer bottle.
This past Wednesday, U.S. Food and Drug Administration requested the makers of hand sanitizers, and related products, to provide data showing the active ingredients. They want the makers to reveal whether it actually reduces bacteria and is harmless over time. Specifically, the FDA is concerned over the long-term effects on pregnant women and children.
“These products provide a convenient alternative when hand washing with plain soap and water is unavailable, but it’s our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day,” stated Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
The known active ingredients are alcohol (ethanol/ethyl alcohol), isopropyl, and benzalkonium chloride. The FDA is asking for more data on these ingredients.
The FDA doesn’t think that it is harmful or ineffective, they just want more information. Recent research has found that higher levels of the antiseptics’ ingredients were found in the consumers’ urine and blood. This does raise a few questions about absorption. The antiseptics are not washed off so once it is absorbed into the skin, the FDA needs to know how it effects us.
Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is recommended to avoid getting sick and spreading infection, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.