While you may not be allergic to the germs on your hands, it is still a cause for concern. Why? Because any potential irritation to your airways can cause more problems with either allergies or asthma, and the main source of germs heading into your body are your own hands.
In alcohol-based hand sanitizers (like Purell), the active ingredient is ethyl alcohol. Alcohol is a natural antiseptic that has been used in the medical field for over 100 years. It kills germs in seconds, without water, and evaporates quickly leaving no residue on the skin. The alcohol in the hand sanitizer actually physically destroys the germs. Further, the incidence of allergy to the alcohol is very low.
When buying a hand sanitizer, be sure to check out the full list of ingredients used. Some hand sanitizers are mainly alcohol and aloe vera, which are ideal for those with skin or chemical sensitivities. Beware of hand sanitizers that use additional chemicals. Remember that the primary ingredient for effectiveness is alcohol.
Keep in mind that hand sanitizers are not to be used instead of hand washing, but in addition to. Some allergens, in even minute quantity, can be extremely dangerous. Take the peanut allergy, for instance. A peanut allergy is the third most common food allergy in young children and is the most common food allergy in older children, adolescents and adults. Researchers studied about 20 participants who were not allergic to peanuts. Participants washed with various cleaning agents, plain water and an antibacterial hand sanitizer after applying a teaspoon of peanut butter to their hands. Results show hand wipes, liquid soaps, and bar soaps effectively removed the peanut allergens. However, plain water left allergens on three of 12 hands and the hand sanitizer left allergens on six of 12 hands.
So, if you have children or adults in your home with serious allergies, be sure to keep your hands both washed and sanitized!