COVID-19: Hidden Dangers of Using Hand Sanitizers

Updated on June 15, 2020

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Using a hand sanitizer can give you a sense of comfort that you are protected from germs and viruses. After all, it’s one of the most effective ways of cleaning your hands, next to washing them with soap and water. It’s convenient and simple to use, especially in times when handwashing is not possible. However, you have to know that there are also dangers of using hand sanitizers.

While they can help in reducing germs and other forms of bacteria in your hands, they contain some ingredients that may be dangerous to your health. That is why it is important that you buy safe products from authorized manufacturers. Some of these manufacturers have their own hand sanitizer packaging machines while others outsource this process.

Although hand sanitizers can help fight off COVID-19 and other diseases, here are some of their hidden dangers that you should know about.

They Can Make Your Body Resistant to Antibiotics

You might have heard about the benefits of antibiotics and how they are effective against bacteria. But you also have to know that by using hand sanitizers, your body can build up resistance to antibiotics. When your body becomes antibiotic-resistant, you can be prone to catching more diseases. As ironic as it sounds, it is possible, especially when you’re using an excessive amount of hand sanitizers.

Most hand sanitizers contain harmful chemicals like triclosan. It is a germ-killing active ingredient found in many antibacterial products. Being exposed to it may lower your resistance to diseases by killing the good bacteria in your body. There are studies saying that triclosan is a toxic ingredient and it should be banned in all products.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, triclosan is not currently known as a chemical that is hazardous to humans. However, it also acknowledges that some studies on animals show that it can penetrate the skin and cause hormonal disruption. Improper use of antibiotics can lead to bacterial resistance and that is not good for your body.

They Can Cause Hormonal Disruption

Aside from being harmful to the body, another effect of triclosan is hormonal disruptions. Research shows that triclosan may lead to hormonal problems. According to this research, there are claims and concerns for possible effects on human health, as triclosan has been detected in blood, urine samples, and even in human breast milk.

There are some concerns to have further investigation as to how it might affect humans. Further studies are yet to be done to prove if it can disturb thyroid, estrogen, and testosterone regulation in the human body. If proven to be true, then this harmful chemical can affect early puberty, infertility, and poor sperm quality.

It was also found in a previous animal study that triclosan could change the way hormones work in the body. It can lower thyroid hormone levels, decrease testosterone in males, alter pubertal timing in females, and increase allergic sensitivity.

They Can Harm Your Immune System

Studies have shown that aside from causing antibiotics resistance and hormone disruption, triclosan can also harm the immune system. Since the immune system protects your body against diseases, you can be susceptible to viruses when it becomes weaker.

Another research from the University of Michigan School of Public Health suggests that triclosan can negatively affect our immune system. When immunity defenses are compromised, people are more vulnerable to allergies and to Bisphenol A, a toxic chemical found in plastics. This chemical is believed to have a negative impact on human health by affecting or mimicking hormones.

In the said study, it shows that young individuals who are overexposed to triclosan through using antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, or other anti-bacterial products, may suffer more allergies. It also shows that people with higher levels of triclosan in their bodies are more likely to be diagnosed with hay fever.

It Can Cause Alcohol Poisoning

While triclosan can be toxic to your body, it is not the only harmful chemical that hand sanitizers contain. Just because a hand sanitizer doesn’t have it, it doesn’t mean that it is completely safe. Some hand sanitizers, especially alcohol-based ones, contain a type of alcohol that acts as an antimicrobial that kills bacteria in your hands.

This active ingredient can either be ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or sometimes a mix of both in a contraction of 60% to 95% as prescribed by the FDA. If a person ingests hand sanitizers containing these kinds of alcohol, it may cause poisoning. It could even lead to death if the person is not given immediate medical attention.

Ingesting a few squirts of hand sanitizer can already have an effect that is equivalent to two shots of hard liquor, except that hand sanitizers are dangerous. In most cases, this happens to toddlers and younger children. That is why hand sanitizers should be away from the reach of children. Parental guidance is also advised during hand-sanitizer use of younger children so they can avoid accidentally ingesting it.


Hand sanitizers are known to be the most convenient and best alternative of handwashing in keeping your hands clean. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, hand sanitizers have become one of the necessities of almost every individual. But while it can help keep your hands clean, you must make sure that the hand sanitizer you are using is not just effective in killing viruses but also safe to use to avoid its negative implications.


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