Do You Know Nutrition: Good ol' soap, water best way to clean hands

By Phylis Canion
March 6, 2012 at midnight
Updated March 5, 2012 at 9:06 p.m.

We recently had an incident when our granddaughter licked her hands after using a hand sanitizer and became ill because of the alcohol content. Can you please share information regarding the use of hand sanitizer and its dangers.

The use of hand sanitizers became popular with the advent of H1N1, also known as the swine flu. Those sanitizers that contain at least 62 percent alcohol, have been shown to be effective at killing more types of germs over most other forms.

However, just two ounces of a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol is the equivalent of four shots of vodka. Just by comparison; beer contains approximately five percent alcohol and wine contains between nine and 12 percent alcohol.

Therefore, results of ingesting alcohol by licking hands cleansed by an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can lead to alcohol poisoning in young children. Children who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorders are more vulnerable because of the repetitive behavior.

One other contributing factor is that many hand sanitizers are flavored, from apple crisp to jelly bean, that make it more inviting to children to lick their hands. Other active ingredients include triclosan and benozalkonium chloride; however, bacteria can develop a resistance to these ingredients.

Triclosan is a chlorinated aromatic compound used to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination and is used in many antibacterial and antifungal properties.

While the safety of Triclosan is still in question, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing all of the available evidence on this ingredient's safety in consumer products and will communicate the findings of its review, to the public, in the winter of 2012.

Benozalkonium chloride is highly flammable and is toxic to aquatic invertebrates and fish, moderately toxic to birds and slightly toxic to mammals. Because benozalkonium chloride also is used in eye washes and nasal sprays, resulting in direct contact with sensitive body tissues, its safety has come into question.

Reported side effects of benzalkonium chloride are hives, palpitating heart, shortness of breath and swelling of throat and face. I still recommend washing with soap and water as the best, safest method to clean our hands and our children's.

Thought for the week: Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Call today, 361-576-2100, to sign up for the next free nutrition class on March 12 at Organic Emporium.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



Powered By AffectDigitalMedia