it’s the most germ filled time of the year! Well, that may not be entirely
accurate, but it flows nicely to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful
Time of the Year”; and germs are plentiful this time of year, so we took
a little poetic license. The point is that winter is here. A time spent
huddled together indoors spreading good cheer and germs of all sorts.
Being the good parents we are, we tell our children to cover their
coughs and sneezes. We teach them to aim for their inner elbow, but
we know many coughs and sneezes go into their hands …. or directly
into the air. And let’s face it, tissues aren’t always handy and those
noses need to be wiped somehow.
Now that you have those images in your mind, let’s talk about hand
washing. We tell our kids to wash their hands constantly and that is in
fact great advice. But what are our kids using to wash their hands?
It’s become common for most places to provide antibacterial soap.
Sounds great doesn’t it? A little rub-a-dub-dub with that magic formula
and all the bacteria gets washed away! Wait a minute. Not so fast!
Science doesn’t exactly back that up.
The active ingredient often found in antibacterial soaps and hand
sanitizers is called Triclosan. It was first used in 1972 by surgeons.
That same year, Congress instructed the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) to establish guidelines for the use of antibacterials in soaps. As
of 2017, this quote is found on the FDA website: “FDA is undertaking a
review of active ingredients used in a variety of over-the-counter (OTC)
antiseptic rubs and wash products.”
In 1978 the FDA said Triclosan was “not generally recognized as safe
and effective.” Also, a 2011 study by E. M. Clayton found that children
who had greater amounts of Triclosan in their system were more likely
to suffer from asthma and allergies. This might be in response to
antibacterials killing both harmful and beneficial bacteria. The children’
s immune systems actually became weaker.
What’s a parent to do? Teach your children to wash their hands with
plain soap and water. It has been found to be just as effective as
antibacterials in killing harmful bacteria.
If your child is asked to bring hand sanitizer to school, here is a recipe
to make a Triclosan-free version. Blend 3 drops of liquid grapefruit
seed extract (GSE) with each ounce of aloe vera gel. Place it in a