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Is it safe for children to use hand sanitizers?

Instant hand sanitizers have become must haves in most urban households these days especially during the monsoon. With hand sanitizers gaining such a lot of popularity a lot of parents are asking if these are safe for children to use them. Here is everything that one needs to know to answer that question for themselves.

There are the two basic types of instant hand sanitizers

            > Alcohol based

            > Alcohol free

Hand sanitizing products containing more than 60% of alcohol usually ethyl alcohol fall under the alcohol based category. The alcohol content in the product disintegrates the cell membrane to kill most diseases causing germs.

The alcohol free kind of products contain compounds like sodium benzalkonium and triclosan which have anti-microbial properties and work like antibiotics to kill germs. While these are effective, they still leave a chance for the germs to grow resistant to its active ingredient creating what are termed as super bugs.

Both types of sanitizers are effective and have their own set of pros and cons. Now comes the question of wether they are safe for kids? To answer that question let’s take a closer look into the products.

1.  Ingredients: The basic ingredients in both these types of products are very potent and if ingested can cause poisoning in kids and adults alike. However, if used as instructed the products are completely safe on use and after use in addition to being extremely effective at keeping germs at bay.

2.  Effectiveness: Neither products are good enough to be a replacement for traditional soap and water to clean your hands. Both products are surface reactants and cannot kill germs beyond the layer that it comes in contact with. Sanitizers cannot kill germs under dirt and grime and are of very little use when used on visibly dirty hands.

3.  Safety: The products come in safe to carry and use bottles, usually plastic and are very handy. When used for the purpose that these are designed to the products are safe to use for kids and adults alike.

4.  Skin safety: The alcohol based products can dry out the skin of the hands and necessary oils on it leaving it to infections due to a dry skin barrier. Children’s skin are more delicate compared to that of the adults so always use a product that has enough moisturizers to keep their hands hydrated and soft like they should be.

5.  Do’s: Always make sure that children use the product only under adult supervision. The product should always be kept out of children’s reach. Children should be taught that sanitizers are not food or drink and should not be ingested under any circumstance.

6.  Don’ts: Stay away from products that smell sweet and can tempt children to eat it. Do not leave bottles of the product lying around where children may find it. Do not let children under a certain age use the product without adult supervision.

All said and done as long as the products are used in the way they are designed to with proper precautions, they are completely safe for kids to use.

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