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Hand Sanitizer For Acne- Is it OK to Use Hand Sanitizer on Acne?

Hand Sanitizers are ideal for fighting infections and preventing many contagious catastrophes within a small pinch, but in case of acne, they make matters worse. For many reasons, hand sanitizers are not used in the treatment of acne. ‘ The clean hands campaign’ by the US Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention has advised to use hand sanitizer only when soap and water are not accessible.

Why don’t Hand Sanitizers work on Acne?

The cooling and tingling effect of hand sanitizers may appear as an illusion in the case of acne. The active ingredient in the hand sanitizer is isopropyl alcohol which has no role in combating acne as the antiseptic properties may clean wounds but do not penetrate pores to clear acne.

The alcohol in the hand sanitizer makes the skin dry and act as an irritant. This is also why hand sanitizers can’t be used as an aftershave as the alcohol content in aftershave is less. It is not meant to be used as a toner as well because a toner is meant to hydrate the skin but a hand sanitizer does the exact opposite.

There is not enough research on rubbing alcohol on acne. A comprehensive study done on acne vulgaris among young women was done where other modalities such as prescribing antibiotics, retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and many more were preferred over rubbing alcohol.

Can Hand Sanitizers Open Pores?

Contrary to what many believe, it is quite impossible to open or close pores. Although large pores may be reduced in size, the determinants of a pore are majorly genetics, and hand sanitizers have no role in making them any smaller.

Hand Sanitizers on Popped Pimple

Alcohol over a popped pimple can be disastrous!  In simple words, alcohol ‘kills’ bacteria and also whatever it touches. So applying hand sanitizer over a ‘popped’ pimple or an open wound not only kills bacteria but healthy cells around it, making the wound bigger.

Hand Sanitizer Ingredients

Hand sanitizers are found in the form of liquid, gel, or sprays to decrease infectious agents on hand. However, hand sanitizers are less effective in killing the Novo virus, bacterium clostridium difficile, and harmful chemicals when compared to soap. Alcohol-based sanitizers don’t work against spores.

It has the following:

  • It is 70% to 90% (most effective) alcohol and the rest are mixed with sterile or distilled water, essential oil, and organic elements. Non- alcohol sanitizer may contain benzalkonium chloride and triclosan but areas not effective.
  • Additional antiseptics such as chlorhexidine and quaternary ammonium derivates.
  • Some contain sporicide such as hydrogen peroxide.
  • Emollients to reduce dryness.
  • Sometimes foaming agent or fragrance.

Alcohol has been used as an antiseptic as early as the 1300’s and alcohol-based hands sanitizer has been in use since the 1980s.

Caution: As alcohol is inflammable, care should be taken when going near sources that generate heat/fire.

Do Hand Sanitizers Improve the Appearance of Scars?

A lot of misinformation flies across regarding hand sanitizers playing any role in fading scars. In reality, they don’t have any effect on them!

20 uses for hand sanitizer 

Apart from killing germs especially in this pandemic, there are many ways a hand sanitizer may come in handy so it is worth having it with you with or without the pandemic!

  • Silver Polish- Hand Sanitizer cuts through tarnish over the silver. Try adding a few drops of hand sanitizer and see the tarnish disappear like magic!
  • Cleaning eyeglasses have become me everyday ritual! They clean the glass from thumbprints.
  • Extremely handy when you forget the deodorant! The reason for bad odor from the armpit is bacteria and hand sanitizers are extremely handy when eliminating bacteria and getting rid of that odor.
  • When you’re out of dry shampoo, try applying a pump of hand sanitizer on hair roots and that will remove the excess oil from the scalp and give you back the confidence!
  • Cleaning the surface of hair iron with hand sanitizers is an easy alternate.
  • Cleaning the mirror with hand sanitizer and microfiber cloth can help remove the dullness and bring the shine back
  • Cleaning those makeup brushes with hand sanitizers have worked quite well with me! Allow it to dry first for few minutes before using it.
  • If you have accidentally written on the whiteboard with a permanent marker, just use a pen eraser, add hand sanitizer and wipe it with cloth. You may have to do this a few times.
  • Pre-treat stains on clothes with sanitizer before washing as they soften those stubborn stains.
  • Removing a sticky label or band-aid from the skin could be less painful with the help of a sanitizer.
  • Your keyboard can be as dirty as a toilet seat, so you might want to clean it with a hand sanitizer but remember to plug it off first!
  • Cleaning the touch screen of the mobile with sanitizer has been quite ‘handy’ in the pandemic.
  • Cleaning the public toilet seat before using it
  • Using it a couple of times over nail polish can do wonders in case of a nail polish remover crisis!
  • Eliminate fingerprints on stainless steel with the sanitizer.
  • Cleaning diamonds with sanitizer can add to the sparkle!
  • Remove food stain from microfiber furniture with a few wipes of sanitizer.
  • Cleaning the stains on the child seat.
  • Stop mosquito bites from itching!
  • Clean off the dust from furniture.

How to Use Hand Sanitizer?

Remember to dry it out for half a minute and not touch over the face or open wounds.

One must be cautious to keep it away from children to prevent ingestion and away from the fire as it is inflammable.

Can expired hand sanitizer be used?

Yes, it can but the question is will you use it after what I am about to convey?

Every hand sanitizer has an expiry date somewhere around the bottle. This means the efficacy of the active ingredient ‘dies down’ by 90% and is less effective or not effective at all. It usually lasts 2 to 3 years from the day it was manufactured and this is called the shelf life. Regardless it is not recommended to use a less effective sanitizer as it does not serve the purpose as it would initially.

Hand Sanitizer with Moisturizer

The best thing to do in this pandemic is to wash hands accurately for at least 20 seconds and the second best thing to do will be sanitizing the hands frequently. Now alcohol being the active ingredient makes the hands dry which may lead to irritation.

However, sanitizers with moisturizers help trap moisture and keep the hands soft. If you don’t like fragrances there are fragrance-free moisturizers as well.

No.1 Hand Sanitizer

Purell Hand Sanitizer is the number one hand sanitizer used by most hospital settings and is preferred by health care workers. It kills 99.9% of common germs which cause disease without affecting the skin.

It is a blend of four kinds of moisturizers which helps the skin from over-drying and is suitable for frequent use.

The formulation of purell is mild and is free of paraben, phthalates, and preservatives. It is free of triclosan which makes it kill germs faster as it evaporates and germs don’t become resistant.

However, it should not be used on acne as it will make it worse!

The FAQs About Hand Sanitizer on Acne

 Q. Is it good to put hand sanitizer on acne?

Answer: No, it has alcohol as an active ingredient and that makes the skin dry which irritates the skin further. When alcohol is placed over a ‘popped’ pimple or wound it becomes bigger and may spread.

Q. How do you get rid of bacterial acne?

Answer: Rather than alcohol rubs, oral antibiotics such as doxycycline 100mg twice a day after meal or erythromycin three times a week after meal for 4-8weeks are a preferred choice in practice. In the case of topical antibiotics, clindamycin is often used for 2-4 weeks once or twice a day.

Bottom Line

By far, using hand sanitizers for acne is disastrous and the results are petrifying. As the high alcohol content in sanitizers dries up the skin it makes the skin produce more oil to compensate and aggravate the acne.

Comprehensive studies have found other modalities of treating acne much more effectively and safely. As I always say, love the skin that you are in as you will be wearing it for the rest of your life. It is one expensive layer you will always be enwrapped in, so let’s not experiment with it!

Read my Others Articles About Acne:

  1. Do Acne Scars Go Away?
  2. Does Olive Oil Cause Acne?
  3. Is Noxzema Good For Acne?

Hi this is Dr. Rimita Farid. I have completed my MBBS from MAHSA University in Kuala Lampur , Malaysia and currently a registered doctor in Bangladesh. I am training in Dermatology and Venerology and writing for me has been a hobby, even before i decided to be a doctor. I believe our lives are getting stressful with every moment and i believe writing is the solution to all our problems. The power of pen and paper is highly underestimated by many, and i am blessed that i realized how stimulating writing can be for my well being. Hope my articles are relatable and can reach as many readers as possible.