What is Antibacterial Gel?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Antibacterial gel is most often used as a hand sanitizer when it is not possible or convenient to wash with soap and water. Just a quick squirt into the palm of a dime-sized amount is all that’s required. The gel is rubbed into the skin the same way hand lotion would be used, and quickly evaporates due to its alcohol content. Antibacterial gel kills most germs on contact and commonly contains ingredients to soften and lubricate the skin, such as aloe vera gel or other emollients.

Antibacterial gel can be purchased in squeeze bottles or in small foil packets that contain just one use. The foil packets are great for tossing into a purse or glove compartment. You can even slip one or two into a wallet. It's a good bet that throughout the day, or certainly the week there will be at least one or more occasions where hand sanitizer comes in handy. Antibacterial gel has become so popular you might see a bottle of it sitting just about anywhere, from your bank teller’s window to the cashier’s stand at your favorite department store.


Some people might want to consider brands that do not contain alcohol. The Wall Street Journal reported on 12 August 2006 that a nurse tested positive for alcohol in her system after using a popular hand sanitizer. The victim ended up with a suspended nursing license and was forced to go to court. The highly sensitive test used in her case is based on a particular marker in alcohol that lingers in the blood for several days after consuming a drink. The marker was present after cleansing the hands with antibacterial gel containing alcohol, but other products containing alcohol can also throw the test, including mouthwash, vanilla extract and certain cold medicines.

Hand sanitizer is promoted as being safe to use on babies hands, but follow directions and any cautionary warnings on the product. The gel should be completely evaporated before babies are allowed to put their hands near their mouths and non-alcohol based formulas are preferable. Eco-friendly antibacterial gels like Clean Well™ do not contain alcohol or harsh chemicals and purport to kill germs just as well.

Hand sanitizer should not be used as a replacement for soap and water, but a stop-gap measure when soap and water is not available. It can be helpful in classrooms, medical facilities, day care centers, gyms and any public places where germs are spread.


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Post 4

Antibacterial soaps and bodywashes are a marketing gimmick. Not only are they not necessary, but will actually do more harm than good. The non-alcohol based gel, soaps, washes will cause mutations in bacteria, much like overuse/improper use of antibiotics.

Alcohol based gels do not cause mutations, but they do kill good bacteria in our skin which aids our immune systems. It also dries out skin which can result in micro lesions in the skin which allow bacteria to get in. Gels should only be used when soap and water is not available, and then with discretion.

Proper hand washing, which includes liquid soap (bar soap harbors bacteria), very warm water, and vigorous rubbing for 20 seconds (or sing the National Anthem) is the best way to ward off harmful bacteria. You can find all this information from the CDC.

Post 3

Can you tell me a little more about antibacterial gel effectiveness? I mean, the one that nurse was using must have been pretty hardcore, but what about normal ones?

Is it really that much better to use an antibacterial gel than soap? I'm really curious about this, because I keep hearing so many conflicting views.

Can somebody clear this up for me?

Post 2

I am an antibacterial gel junkie, I will totally admit it. I love those Bath and Body Works antibacterial hand gels, they just smell so nice, and I feel so much safer knowing that my hands are clean.

Besides, it's a better option that washing your hands in a public bathroom, because then you have to touch the dirty tap and doorknob on the way out, defeating the entire purpose.

I always keep a little tube of antibacterial gel with me, or barring that, antibacterial wipes. I like my world to be clean, and I'll do whatever it takes to keep it that way.

Post 1

I have to say, I'm not a huge fan of antibacterial hand gel. I mean, we've got those hand sanitizer dispensers set out in every place from libraries to airplanes, and it's just contributing to the development of super-bacteria.

Do you know, I've even seen antibacterial shower gel! I can't believe that the fear of bacteria has gone so far that someone would shower in an antibacterial gel.

A little bacteria is good for the human body -- it keeps your immunity up, and you also don't have to worry about your hands being dry and absorbing all the other chemicals that they put in that stuff.

Your body is never going to be bacteria free, and you're

better off just washing your hands if you're worried about germs. Just get some good old Dial liquid hand soap, and forget about all the chemical-laden antibacterial gels. The only difference you'll see is in your wallet and the new moisturized status of your hands.

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