Advertising
Advertising

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Hand Sanitizer Anymore

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Hand Sanitizer Anymore

This was a bit of an interesting article for me to write, because in the past, I was an avid user of hand sanitizer. In fact, you could almost say that I was addicted to it. So much so that I had one of those half-gallon canisters of the stuff sitting on my desk drawers, just in case I happened to need it at any particular moment.

I cut down on my use of hand sanitizer after some friends told me that I might have been going a bit overboard. They didn’t; however, give me any specific reasons. Luckily, after doing some research, I can share with you the exact reasons why overuse of hand sanitizer might not be such a good thing. If you are iffy about using hand sanitizer, or just want to know a little bit more about this mysterious clear-colored panacea, read on.

1. It Adversely Affects Your Skin.

If you are using a traditional alcohol-based hand sanitizer, then it’s likely the skin on your hands is a bit more worn than the rest of your body. This is because alcohol is a skin irritant, which disrupts your natural oil production causing both dry and flaky skin.

Over time, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause the skin on your hands to age more rapidly than it would naturally, as dry skin is prone to developing wrinkles and other blemishes.

If you do need to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, make sure to use some kind of hand lotion soon afterwords.

Advertising

2. It Can Lead to the Development of Superbugs.

If your hand sanitizer doesn’t contain alcohol, then it likely contains “triclosan,” which is a powerful antibacterial agent. The problem is overuse of antibiotics like triclosan can lead to the development of superbugs – which are essentially diseases that have developed a resistance to traditional antibiotics

Indeed, one study has shown that prolonged used of germicides like triclosan can lead to outbreaks of tough-to-kill bacteria that are potentially extremely dangerous to society. Just in 2013 alone, the CDC reported that superbugs were responsible for “at least” 23,000 deaths.

Not only that, but another study found that using triclosan might negatively affect your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to more traditional illnesses (like the common cold).

That’s not to say that using a triclosan-based hand sanitizer once or twice a day will necessarily lead to the rise of a superbug. Using it excessively; however, might lead to some complications further down the line.

3. It Contains Unknown and Possibly Dangerous Chemicals.

The main ingredient in hand sanitizer is usually either alcohol or triclosan — both of which are designed to kill germs. Those aren’t; however, the only things present in your hand sanitizer – far from it actually. This is especially true if your hand sanitizer is scented, as synthetic fragrances normally consist of phthalates, which at their worst, can cause abnormalities in hormone production.

Advertising

You also need to look out for parabens, which are essentially preservatives meant to prolong the shelf-life of your trusty bottle of Purell. What makes these dangerous is how they are absorbed into your skin each time you use your hand sanitizer.

Perhaps worst of all is that the companies who make these products are not required to tell us the exact ingredients used in the scents of their hand sanitizers. Thus, they can be made up of several undisclosed chemicals.

To minimize your risk, stick to the stuff that doesn’t have any added fragrance.

4. It Can Increase Your Skin’s Absorption of BPA.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a name you should be fairly familiar with by now. Just recently, there was a massive movement to get the chemical out of our plastic products (a transition that is still going on to this day). For those who don’t know, BPA is dangerous because it can do some pretty nasty things to your endocrine system, which in turn can cause numerous hormone disorders, cancer, and a litany of other bodily issues.

So, how does BPA relate to hand sanitizer? Well, one study out of the University of Missouri found that using hand sanitizer right before touching anything containing a high amount of BPA (like thermal receipt paper) can increase the amount of BPA absorbed through your skin by “up to a hundred-fold.”

Advertising

Perhaps even worse, a thin layer of BPA will remain on your skin even after it has been absorbed. Meaning that, if you first use hand sanitizer, get BPA on your hands, and then eat something, you’re essentially consuming a bit of that dangerous chemical with every bite. That isn’t good, which is why the University of Missouri’s researchers strongly suggest not using hand sanitizer right before touching something that contains BPA.

5. It Isn’t Even That Effective.

So, after reading all of this, you might be telling yourself, “well, at least hand sanitizer kills all the germs on my hands right? That at least makes it worth it.” Well, unfortunately, it’s not as clear cut as you’d think.

While certain hand sanitizers (specifically, those that contain at least 60% alcohol) are great at killing off microbial life, they can also remove naturally produced oils and beneficial bacteria present on your skin, which, ironically, reduces your body’s defenses against disease.

Not only that, but studies have also shown that traditional soap and water is more effective at washing away certain kinds of dangerous bacteria. Therefore, unless you have no access to soap and running water, stick to the standard hand-washing method. If you have no other option, then alcohol-based hand sanitizers with no added fragrance are your best bet — just be sure to have some sort of lotion on hand so that you don’t dry your skin out.

Alternatives

So, you’re convinced that you shouldn’t be using hand sanitizer all of the time, but also want to know if there are other ways to cleanse your hands when you don’t have access to soap and a sink.

Advertising

Well, there are a few things you can do. One of which is to create a homemade hand sanitizer, which keeps your hands clean without all of the negatives I listed above.

You can also wear thin gloves if you happen to be somewhere with a lot of germs, like an airport or a public bus. Just be sure not to rub your face with your gloves or anything like that.

Lastly, you can try and buy one of the more natural/organic hand sanitizers, though those are rare. What you will want to look at is their ingredient list. Try and find one that doesn’t contain alcohol or triclosan, or any other kind of questionable ingredient. They’ll probably be more expensive, but your health is worth the investment.

What’s your personal verdict on hand sanitizer? Are you going to stop using it for good now? Will you seek alternatives? Or do you remain unconvinced? Whatever your takeaway, I’d like to hear your perspective in the comment section below!

Featured photo credit: Clean hands in the woods/smilla4 via flic.kr

More by this author

5 Life Lessons I Learned From Dean Winchester 10 Best Online Shopping Sites I Wish I Knew Earlier 10 Reasons Why Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend 30 Incredible Things Your iPhone Can Do 10 Things Only Detail-Oriented People Do

Trending in Health

1 Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It 2 The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best 3 10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know 4 What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It) 5 13 Brain Healthy Foods That Keep Your Brain Sharp Naturally

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

Advertising

This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

Advertising

If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

Advertising

Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

Advertising

To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

Read Next