In the note that came home for kindergarten this year, they requested parents send in standard alcohol based hand sanitizer for the classroom. Chances are good if you are a parent of a school aged child, you got one of those letters too.

For years and years many of us “lunatic mothers” have been resisting this policy.  We asserted that kids need some germs to build an immune system. We added that alcohol dries out the skin leaving it cracked and vulnerable to infection.  They told us to use lotion then.

The fact is, we should be resisting sanitizer use… ADAMANTLY. Perhaps not for the reasons we think though.

As early as 2002, scientists have known alcohol based hand sanitizers posed a threat to our children’s health. Here’s the earliest study that I found in The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. Now, I don’t really hold American doctors and infectious control specialists responsible for ignoring that study. It’s from Germany. And in the US, we kind of think that science isn’t science until it happens in the US. I am however highly annoyed that hand sanitizer didn’t get pulled from the market after the American Journal of Infectious Control published their study in 2008 that mirrored the German Study from six years prior.

The results of the study showed that while hand sanitizer can kill germs, what it leaves behind is far more dangerous than what was there before.  Hand sanitizers kill some of the germs, friendly ones included. However, biofilm production and, therefore, the pathogen potential of staph can be induced by alcohol (such as the alcohols found in hand sanitizer, shampoos, hand soaps, body washes, and mouth washes.) A simple search through our National Institute of Health’s online medical library will produce even more studies to support these two.

Biofilm production is worse than germs just hanging out mingling around. Biofilm is when germs like staph all group together to make a nearly impenetrable “film” on a surface.  That surface can be anything from metal and ceramic surfaces to the deep layers of your skin. Since most other germs have been washed away, recolonization of the stronger germs begins and while this happens, the remaining germs toughen up forming the biofilm that even antibiotics can’t seem to penetrate.

So, seriously, hand sanitizer really is every bit as bad as us “lunatic mothers” suspected… and actually it’s even worse.

Now what?

  • We need to all start washing with safe soaps again. Many essential oils in the Garden Dreams line kill germs and undo the damage the alcohol based products have done by breaking up biofilm. Garden Dream Sage Rosemary is perfect for that. Besides the therapeutic oils, the goat milk soap has proteins that will protect your child’s skin and is at a level almost identical to the pH of human skin leaving it as healthy as possible. Furthermore, it is often the only thing that helps alleviate skin conditions like eczema.
  • If you simply must sanitize your hands without washing them, fill a bottle up with an antiseptic essential oil like (lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, clove bud or thyme) and olive oil. That can be your new sanitizer.
  • If you want a substitute for your sanitizing lotion, use CJ BUTTer on your hands instead.  All of the oils in that are fantastic for the health of your hands and kill bad germs, while leaving your natural skin flora intact. From the drop down menu choose the CJ’s in the Sweet Bay Rose Scent and really get the most bang for your buck with essential oils like rose, basil, eucalyptus, and bay.
  • Take a good look at your baby products’ ingredients (and your own products too) and if the product contains alcohol, pitch it.  With skin infections being one of the leading causes of hospitalizations these days… it’s simply not worth it. We have alternatives.  Find us on this blog, on facebook or on our forum and we will help you find a cheap alternative to your alcohol based products. And if we don’t carry what you’re looking for, we’ll still help you find it.