What Happens When You Use Hand Sanitizer Too Much?


What happens when you use hand sanitizer too much? are there any negative effects? Are plain soap and water better? Get a glass of water if you can, continue reading and you’ll find out.

To begin with, it might interest you to know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) is asking hand sanitizer manufacturers to submit the research backing up their claims of how effective their products are. This gloppy alcoholic gel called hand sanitizers that are nearly all over the place is meant to keep germs from going anywhere. However, they are getting a second look.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) wants manufacturers of hand sanitizers to submit research that secures the efficacy and safety of their products. The reason for this is to be on the safe side.

To be more precise, the FDA wants more data on the three active ingredients in 90 percent of all hand sanitizers. These ingredients are ethyl alcohol (or ethanol), isopropyl alcohol, and benzalkonium chloride.

It is important to note that the FDA isn’t saying it wants these products off the shelves. However, the agency wants them to submit new research on the effectiveness and safety of the hand sanitizers they’re producing.

Ultimately, the agency simply wants evidence to support the claims that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are “generally recognized as safe,” (GRAS). And, this is the FDA’s system of classifying substances as safe to use for their intended purposes.

Hand Sanitizers Are All Over The Place

Before we tell you what happens when you use hand sanitizer too much, let’s tell you a bit about how hand sanitizers are all over the place.

One very serious concern about hand sanitizers is how ubiquitous they have become.


In restrooms, airports and grocery stores, hand sanitizers have boomed since entering the market back in the year 2009.

According to the speech of Dr. Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in a press announcement, consumers are using these antiseptic rubs more often at home, work, and other places where the risk of infection is low at the moment.

She also said that these products provide a convenient alternative when handwashing with plain soap and water is unavailable. However, it’s our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day she added. And to do this, we must fill the gaps in scientific data on certain active ingredients.

Usually, the active ingredient in these sanitizers is ethyl alcohol which is also found in distilled spirits. At 60 to 65 percent alcohol, these hand sanitizers are 120-proof moonshine for your hands essentially.

Since a lot of people use hand sanitizers countless times daily, the FDA wants data gathered on the long term use of these products, especially in pregnant women and children.

According to the FDA, there are emerging science reports that for some active ingredients, systemic exposure, usually detectable in blood or urine is higher than previously assumed.

Altogether, what the FDA wants is more information on how this regular and repeated exposure will impact human health.

There are claims that many of the hand sanitizers advertised kill 99.99 percent of germs. This is another claim the FDA would like to see more evidence to support.

Killing germs can serve as the main purpose of hand sanitizers. However, it’s the rise of the 0.01 percent of the leftover bacteria that is raising concerns for infectious disease experts who are looking for ways to approach the issue of antibiotic resistance.

Additionally, hand sanitizers are not expected to contribute to antibiotic resistance. This is because they don’t contain antibiotics.

Do We Really Need Hand Sanitizers?

In just a moment, we’ll tell you about what happens when you use hand sanitizer too much. But, before we do that, let’s talk about if we really need hand sanitizers. You probably have exhausted that glass of water, refill that glass, and continue reading.

The first thing you should know is that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you use regular plain soap and warm water.

How Long Should You Wash Your Hands For?

According to the agency, hand sanitizers should be used when these methods aren’t within reach.

Without a doubt, hand sanitizers and antibiotic soaps have their place. However, using them as often as we currently do may not be the best long-term solution to keep us safe from disease-causing germs.

The CDC  is quick to point out that there are times when hand sanitizers shouldn’t be used. A good example of such a time is when your hands are especially dirty or greasy. This is because bacteria can get stuck in the nooks and crannies.

Again, the CDC says that hand sanitizers don’t remove harmful chemicals like heavy metals or pesticides.

However, according to other research, there are claims that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are ineffective at protecting people’s hands from norovirus which is the most common cause of stomach flu.

Interestingly, there is evidence that hand sanitizers can help to prevent the spread of germs from the hands of people in the same household. Some other studies show that it can help prevent travelers’ diarrhea during international travel.

Overall, according to NCBI, a large-scale review of all available evidence suggests that washing your hands with plain soap and water is still the best way to prevent the spread of common illnesses by bacteria and viruses found on common surfaces.

The FDA recently issued a proposed rule for the data, which is open to public comment for six months under its new request. After this has been done, sanitizer manufacturers will have a year to submit new data and information before the FDA makes their final ruling.

Sometime in 2013 and 2015, the FDA made rulings on the use of similar over-the-counter antiseptics, including healthcare antiseptics and consumer antiseptic washes.

What Happens When You Use Hand Sanitizer Too Much?

Thank you for reading this far, still got that glass of water? Do well to get another if you need to, sit tight, and continue reading to find out what happens when you use hand sanitizer too much.

The first thing we’ll share with you on what happens when you use hand sanitizer too much is that it could increase your risk of getting infections. There are some medical experts who have started to warn that overusing alcohol-based hand sanitizers to protect against the coronavirus could inversely increase the risk of infection through skin disorders.


Also, washing your hands too many times can have an adverse effect. It could lead to the wearing away of your skin, which acts as a barrier to keep moisture in and harmful agents out normally.

Thus, overdoing both to avoid this pneumonia-causing virus might remove benign bacteria on the skin that normally fight off such pathogens like the norovirus.

According to a spokeswoman for chemicals and cosmetics maker Kao Corp, there’s definitely a need to wash our hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as this is aimed at reducing the transmission of the new virus, but overdoing anything is not good.

Amid advice from healthcare experts to use the same preventive steps against the coronavirus as used against the flu and colds, hand sanitizers have sold out at pharmacies and convenience stores in Tokyo.

Eseoghene Ovwero

Eseoghene Ovwero

Eseoghene Ovwero is a Web Content Developer with great writing skills. You can connect with him through his social media handles.

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