Overuse of hand sanitiser can harm you! The scientists and governments have consulted people to use hand sanitisers during the pandemic, on the best practices in hygiene to protect themselves.
The selling and use of cleaning products and sanitisers have increased dramatically due to this advice. Unfortunately, these guidelines rarely provide guidance as to whether or not they are used responsibly.
However, as with the abuse of antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance in bacteria can also be caused by the use of cleaning agents and sanitisers by mouth. It is worrying that a sudden overuse of products for cleaning and hand sanitizing during the pandemic may lead to an increase in the number of antimicrobial-resistant bacterial species.
It would make our already in difficulties, probably leading to even more casualties, more strainable. Moreover, after the current pandemic is over, the problem could continue.
Our safety is dependent on antimicrobials (including antibiotics, antiprotozoals, antivirals and antifungals). They help us combat infections, particularly when you have a weak or weakened immune system. However, after exposure to an antimicrobial, some species (such as bacteria) may change or mutate.
It helps them to avoid the drugs they are meant to consume. More and more resistant strains are used and manipulated with antimicrobials. The once quickly treated pathogens are now life threats.
There are multiple and different pathways contributing to antimicrobial resistance. One way is by mutation. Some mutations occur following damage to the DNA of the bacteria. This can naturally be achieved during cell replication or after exposure to genotoxic substances that damage cell DNA. Another way is to get bacteria from other bacteria to get resistant genes.
Antimicrobial resistance is commonly (and properly) associated with the abuse of drugs such as antibiotics. Misuse can be that antibiotics are not completed or daily dose cycles are overlooked. Both can increase the chance of surviving and multiplying the most resistant strains of the bacteria in a population.
However, after improper or prolonged use of other chemicals such as sanitisers, bacteria may also develop resistance. The most resistant strain can be maintained by diluting sanitizing agents or by using them intermittently and inefficiently. In the end, this leads to more resistance overall.
The internet and social media experts give advice on making homemade hand sanitisers that they say to be able to destroy the virus. There is no proof that they are successful for any of these items. No attention is also given to the potential negative effects of their use.
We are aware that many of these homemade products have an antibacterial property in the right quantity with ingredients such as alcohol. Anything that is antibacterial may increase the resistance of antimicrobials.
I am worrying that the mutations caused by exposure to chemicals in store-purchased and homemade cleaning products lead to more micro-organisms becoming antimicrobial-resistant. Many of these (including phenols and hydrogen peroxide) can cause damage or modification of DNA and are sometimes called genotoxic.
A small amount of DNA damage is common, particularly in fast multiplying bacteria, due to normal cell metabolism. Normally, this damage is repaired. However, the cell can not survive if there is significant DNA damage or the repair is not right.
In the few instances where genotoxicity is not correctly remedied and the cell survives, however, mutations are more likely to occur. Any of those cells, such as antimicrobial resistance, can now have a survival advantage. The more genotoxic events occur, the more likely the antimicrobial resistance would be to a few remaining cells.
Some of the ingredients recommended by the World Health Organization for various cure agents and hand sanitisers may lead to DNA damage and mutations needed to prevent antimicrobial resistance.
Alcohols, quaternary ammonium compounds, phenols, hydrogen peroxide, surfactants, benzalkonium chloride and Triclosan are common ingredients in many cleaning supplies and hand sanitisers.
The use of some of these compounds is already correlated with increasing the resistance of antimicrobials. The government’s current willingness to use goods containing such compounds must be discussed – without explicit warnings on their consequences.
Treat them as you would a prescription medication when using hand sanitisers and cleaning products. Carefully read the instructions, as any deviation can cause them not to function. No dilution or combination with other items prepared beforehand. Just produce homemade cleaning and sanitiser items with recipes from public places with ingredients from reputed stores.
Our efforts to defend ourselves from Covid-19 will create an ecosystem that can produce even more antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms. As more than 700,000 deaths a year are caused by antimicrobial resistance worldwide, it is critical for us to take precautions to avoid further impacts.
Main article. Overuse of hand sanitizer can harm you!