Is Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitiser Safe for Babies? Here's What You Need to Know
Hand sanitiser is a convenient and effective way to keep your hands clean and germ-free, especially when you don't have access to soap and water. But if you have a baby, you might be wondering if hand sanitiser is safe to use on their delicate skin. And if so, should you opt for alcohol-free or alcohol-based products?
In this blog post, I will answer these questions and provide some tips on how to use hand sanitiser safely and effectively for your baby. I will also share some natural and homemade alternatives to hand sanitiser that you can try.
Alcohol-Free vs Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitiser: Which One Is Better?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Australian government, only hand sanitiser containing 60% to 80% alcohol is effective against COVID-19. Alcohol-free hand sanitisers, which usually contain benzalkonium chloride or other quaternary ammonium compounds, have limited activity against viruses and are not recommended for use against COVID-19.
However, alcohol-based hand sanitisers can also have some drawbacks, such as:
- Drying out the skin and causing irritation, cracking, or eczema
- Being flammable and posing a fire hazard
- Being toxic if ingested or absorbed through the skin
- Being harmful to the environment and aquatic life
These drawbacks can be particularly concerning for babies, who have more sensitive skin and are more prone to accidental ingestion or exposure. Therefore, some parents may prefer to use alcohol-free hand sanitisers for their babies, as they are gentler on the skin and less risky in case of accidental ingestion or exposure.
But are alcohol-free hand sanitisers safe and effective for babies? The answer is: it depends.
Some studies have shown that alcohol-free hand sanitisers can work well to kill a range of common bacteria and fungi, and may even have some advantages over alcohol-based products, such as:
- Being more moisturising and soothing for the skin
- Having a longer-lasting effect and residual activity
- Being less likely to cause resistance or adaptation in bacteria
However, these studies also acknowledge that alcohol-free hand sanitisers are less effective against viruses, and that more research is needed to determine their efficacy and safety for babies.
Therefore, the best advice is to use alcohol-free hand sanitisers only when hand washing and alcohol-based sanitisers are not available, and to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. You should also monitor your baby's skin for any signs of irritation or allergy, and stop using the product if you notice any adverse reactions.
How to Use Hand Sanitiser Safely and Effectively for Your Baby
Whether you choose to use alcohol-free or alcohol-based hand sanitiser for your baby, here are some tips on how to use it safely and effectively:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling your baby, especially if you have been in contact with potentially contaminated surfaces or people. Hand sanitiser is not a substitute for hand washing, but rather a supplement when hand washing is not possible.
- Use only a small amount of hand sanitiser (about the size of a pea) and rub it all over your baby's hands, including the palms, backs, fingers, and nails. Make sure the product covers the entire surface of the hands and dries completely.
- Avoid touching your baby's face, eyes, mouth, or nose with your hands or with the hand sanitiser. If the product gets into your baby's eyes or mouth, rinse with water immediately and seek medical attention if needed.
- Keep the hand sanitiser out of reach of your baby and other children, and store it in a cool and dry place away from heat and sunlight. Do not leave the product in your car, as it may explode or leak due to high temperatures.
- Do not use hand sanitiser on your baby's wounds, cuts, or broken skin, as it may cause pain, infection, or scarring. Use water and a mild soap to clean the affected area, and apply a bandage or dressing if needed.
- Do not use hand sanitiser on your baby's diaper area, as it may cause irritation, rash, or infection. Use water and a mild soap to clean the area, and apply a barrier cream or ointment if needed.
Natural and Homemade Alternatives to Hand Sanitiser
If you are looking for natural and homemade alternatives to hand sanitiser, you can try some of these options:
- Aloe vera gel: Aloe vera gel is a natural moisturiser and antibacterial agent that can help soothe and protect your baby's skin. You can use pure aloe vera gel or mix it with a few drops of essential oils, such as lavender, tea tree, or lemon, for added benefits. However, be careful not to use too much essential oil, as it may cause irritation or allergy. You can also test the product on a small patch of skin before using it on your baby's hands.
- Witch hazel: Witch hazel is a natural astringent and antiseptic that can help cleanse and disinfect your baby's hands. You can use pure witch hazel or mix it with a few drops of essential oils, such as rosemary, eucalyptus, or peppermint, for added benefits. However, be careful not to use too much essential oil, as it may cause irritation or allergy. You can also test the product on a small patch of skin before using it on your baby's hands.
- Vinegar: Vinegar is a natural acid and antimicrobial agent that can help kill bacteria and fungi on your baby's hands. You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio. You can also add a few drops of essential oils, such as lemon, orange, or grapefruit, for added benefits and scent. However, be careful not to use too much essential oil, as it may cause irritation or allergy. You can also test the product on a small patch of skin before using it on your baby's hands.
Hand sanitiser is a useful and convenient way to keep your hands clean and germ-free, but it is not without risks and limitations. If you have a baby, you should be extra careful and cautious when using hand sanitiser, and always follow the best practices and recommendations from health authorities and experts.
Alcohol-free hand sanitisers may seem like a safer and gentler option for your baby, but they are not effective against COVID-19 and other viruses, and they may still cause irritation or allergy. Therefore, you should use them only when hand washing and alcohol-based sanitisers are not available, and monitor your baby's skin for any signs of adverse reactions.
You can also try some natural and homemade alternatives to hand sanitiser, such as aloe vera gel, witch hazel, or vinegar, but you should be careful not to use too much or too often, and test the product on a small patch of skin before using it on your baby's hands.
The best way to protect your baby from germs and infections is to wash your hands with soap and water before handling your baby, and to keep your baby away from potentially contaminated surfaces and people. You should also consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about hand sanitiser or other hygiene products for your baby.