to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, frequent
hand washing is the number one way to prevent the spread of
infections. But what kind of soap is appropriate? And what
about using hand sanitizers?
simple answer is that plain soap and running water coupled
with good technique are just as good against common childhood
respiratory and stomach viruses and bacteria as antibacterial
soap. Plain soap doesn’t induce the risk of creating
resistant organisms, according to a recent review article
published by Infectious Diseases Society of America,"
says Dr. Peggy Decker, a Mayo Clinic Health System
care settings, such as hospitals and clinics, may have
different recommendations. Comprehensive information is
available from the Centers for Disease Control.
OF HAND SANITIZERS
of the high alcohol content, there are several safety concerns
with hand sanitizer. Kids shouldn’t use it unsupervised.
Some experts recommend limiting how often young children use
hand sanitizer, and it should not be used on children under 2
years of age. Alcohol is flammable, so sanitizer needs to be
stored safely away from flames and heat sources. There are
strict guidelines for placement in schools and daycare centers
to reduce the risk of fire.
to high alcohol content in hand sanitizer, alcohol poisoning
and intoxication is possible if a large amount is absorbed by
drinking, using on damaged skin or using on babies who don’t
have a fully developed skin barrier. Because the alcohol
concentration is high — more than hard liquor — and young
kids have a low body weight, prevention of accidental or
purposeful ingestion is important," says Decker.
of hand sanitizer use (dime-size amount is all that’s
needed) and safe storage are important. If accidental
ingestion of more than one squirt of hand sanitizer occurs,
call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
the risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, children should
avoid alcohol-free hand sanitizer due to concerns about
resistant organisms with the antibacterial agents benzalkonium
chloride and the possible toxic degradation products of
frequent hand washing keeps germs at bay and can go a long way
in protecting your child from viruses and bacteria," says
Decker. "By teaching your child the importance of hand
hygiene and how to properly clean their hands, you can help
them establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime."