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Is hand sanitiser worthwhile using for my family?

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Icon pin6010, AU


BakeSw@p members want to know… it worthwhile using antibacterial hand sanitiser?

Could using it too often be a bad thing for my kids (and for me?). Is there something else I should use instead?  We asked GP Dr Brian Morton, holistic health expert Jessica Donovan and naturopath Barbara Filokostas for their advice on our expert panel.

Hand sanitiser is certainly a product of convenience, which many mums carry in their handbags – and Dr Morton says using hand sanitiser is certainly easier to do on-the-go than washing your hands (and your kids’ hands) with soap and water. He adds it also is worthwhile using when the kids are sick to prevent the spread of illness.

However, he says there is no need to be excessive. “There is a difference between using it in a hospital between patients than using it at home,” he says. And although convenient, sometimes the good old soap and water is best. “Hand sanitiser is good but if we have dirt on our hands then soap and water is the best option. We want our kids to have good hygiene – not just sterile hands,” he adds.

Hand sanitiser will not be suitable for everyoneDr Morton says excessive use might cause skin irritations for people with skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis, and Barbara Filokostas says she sees concern in the application of products with such high alcohol quantities. “With frequent application, the alcohol in these products begins to have a keratolytic effect on the skin, that being the continual peeling and shedding of the outer layer of the skin,” she says. “This results in reduced immunity of the skin and a greater exposure to bacteria and potentially infection. Follow on effects from this can be extremely dry and coarse hands and the onset of conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.”

Jessica Donovan believes the use of hand sanitiser for our children is unnecessary as it contains harsh chemicals when simple soap and water will do. “I don’t use hand sanitiser with my own children,” she says. “We simply use soap and water to wash our hands and don’t go crazy with hand washing. Dirt and germs actually benefit our kids’ immune systems and being too clean and hygienic can lead to a weak immune system and more illness.  I would just recommend soap and water and perhaps keeping a damp wet cloth in a plastic bag in your handbag on outings so you can clean up sticky fingers.”

How often do you use hand sanitiser?

Sw@p Tip: Instead of hand sanitiser Barbara Filokostas suggests using essential oils that have antibacterial properties, such as Australian Lemon Scented Tea Tree Oil.


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Dr Brian Morton is a GP with over 30 years’ experience and is the chair of council of general practice for the Australian Medical Association. He is a father-of-two and a grandfather-of-one.

Thumb thumb jess web optimised 05 1024Jessica Donovan is a holistic health expert and naturopath at Energetic Mama,  She is a mum-of-two.

Thumb thumb barbara botani head shot 1024Barbara Filokostas is a naturopath and founder of Botani Skincare, She is an aunty to four nephews, who she likes to spend a lot of her downtime from the business with.

All advice is general in nature and the BakeSw@p team recommends you seek professional advice from your doctor or health practitioner regarding any concerns relating to your child.

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  • Profile thumb ec bakeswap profile pic  1

    MaBaker - over 4 years ago

    I try not to use it all the time but if I'm out and about and my kids are going to eat something I always use it. Or if they pick up something revolting...luckily they do this less as they get older!

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