It’s common sense that you should wash your hands before and after handling food, whether you’re cooking or eating. And even if you don’t have access to soapy water, you should at least use a mere squeeze of hand sanitizer to make sure you’re not ingesting any harmful bacteria with your food. However, some people tend to wash their hands too frequently, which could ultimately pose both immediate and long-term health problems.
The continued use of antibiotics has been a problem, but many don’t realize these bacteria-killing agents find their way into soap as well. As we frequently wash our hands with antimicrobial soap, we’re allowing antibiotic-resistant bacteria to form and thrive, which makes us more susceptible to illnesses.
In order to properly wash and clean your hands, regular soap does the job just as well, and reduces germs that cause the common cold and the flu, among other things. Next time you’re in the supermarket, just remember that buying antibacterial soap isn’t necessary – regular soap is just fine.
Another issue with overwashing your hands, though external, is hand dermatitis, which is marked by excessive itching, dryness, and burning. Using soap removes the natural oils from your hands, and with increased washing, you’re drying your hands out more quickly than they can produce the needed oils. This irritates the skin and eventually leaves it cracked, taking up to several months to heal.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should stop washing your hands altogether – it’s still a necessary component to healthy living. We all still sing happy birthday while giving our fingers a nice soapy bath under warm water. Just don’t go overboard and head to the sink to scrub your hands clean every minute if you can help it. Your soft hands and lack of antibacterial resistance will thank you later.