There are times that hand sanitizer is worth its weight in gold, like in a crowded airport during cold and flu season, or after any Porta-potty visit. But it might not be disinfecting as well as we think. According to a new study, one type of bacteria seems to be adapting to alcohol-based hand cleaners.
With hand sanitizers at every turn in hospitals, researchers wanted to know if alcohol is effective at killing E. faecium, a kind of bacteria that’s multidrug-resistant. It naturally occurs in the GI tract, but can cause infections when spread to other body parts. In recent years, infections from the bacteria have been on the rise.
When they added alcohol solutions to samples of E. faecium from hospitals between 1997 and 2015, they found the samples from 2010 and after were 10-times more tolerant of alcohol. This means E. faecium is getting more tolerant over time.
Before you ditch the Purell altogether, remember this study was only on one specific kind of bacteria, but don’t forget the power of washing your hands with good old soap and water. The CDC says it’s the best way to clean your hands and they only advise using hand sanitizer when necessary, like when you have no choice and are forced to use a Porta-potty with no sink nearby.