Debunking Myths About Hand Sanitizers

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You might think the peak months of flu activity are coming to an end as we approach closer to spring. Well, I have both good and bad news. Let’s start with the bad so we can end on a good note. The bad news is the flu isn’t only prevalent in the colder months. It circulates the world all year round.[1] That means you can catch the flu even in the summer, especially if you’re traveling. The good news is hand sanitizers play the role of knight in shining armor when you want to reduce the spread of germs and flue prevention. Now, don’t get me wrong. Hand washing with water and soap is truly the safest bet for preventive measures, but sinks aren’t always readily available for us to scrub around the clock. Applying hand sanitizer frequently when you’re on-the-go is often a smart move, but many people are skeptical due to misconceptions. So, I asked scientist Jim Arbogast, from Gojo Industries, the makers of Purell to set straight some of the most common myths about hand sanitizer. Here’s what they are.


Hand Sanitizer Truths

1. Truth: Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers DO NOT Contain Triclosan

One of the most common myths with alcohol-based hand sanitizers is that they contain triclosan. The truth is that PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer and other alcohol-based products do not contain triclosan. In the United States, the FDA requires that triclosan is not be used in products that are left on the skin.

2. Truth: Hand Sanitizers DO NOT Cause Antibiotic Resistance

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the primary cause of antibiotic resistance is the repeated and improper use of antibiotics. Prescribed antibiotics, taken orally or intravenously, operate completely differently than alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The alcohol in hand sanitizers quickly kills a broad spectrum of germs and then evaporates. Nothing is left behind on your skin to let the germs become resistant. 

3. Truth: Using Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers DO NOT Dry Your Hands

Many believe the frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers will dry out your hands or your skin. PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer has been developed to be used repeatedly without damaging the skin. In fact, studies show PURELL® Hand Sanitizer is gentler on hands than soap and water because it does not strip natural lipids away.

4. Truth: Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers DO NOT Cause Supergerms

One of the myths currently out there about alcohol-based hand sanitizers is they can create “super germs.” Ethyl alcohol, the active ingredient in PURELL® Advanced Hand Sanitizer and other alcohol-based hand sanitizers, rapidly destroys the cell membranes and denatures cell proteins. It’s not left behind to let the germs become resistant or become what some people call “super germs.”

5. Truth: All Germs ARE NOT the Same

There are actually many different types of germs, but a nice way to categorize them is between transient organisms and resident organisms. The resident organisms live on our skin at all layers of the skin. The transient organisms are acquired as you touch something, and they can be transmitted inside your body, to someone else directly or via other objects touched (i.e. cross-contamination). This puts you and others at risk for illness.


So, what should you learn from this? Don’t doubt the power of hand sanitizers! They’re a convenient substitute for hand washing if you don’t have access to water and soap. Just remember to keep rubbing on and armor up! You’ll be well on your way to fight the flu all year round! Hey, told you I’d end this post on a happy note!


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Sally Min
Sally Min
Crafting, designing, and the internet are Sally’s outlets and she’s always looking for new opportunities to transform her way of thinking. When she’s not working, she can probably be found stuffing her face with food or rewatching Grey’s Anatomy over and over again.

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