Alcohol-based hand sanitizers cannot boost immunity

During the course of the COVID19 pandemic, alcohol-based hand sanitizers have become a popular personal care product. The CDC considers hand sanitizers can be used to clean hands when soap and water are unavailable. Most of these alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol.

Alcohol damages the structure of cell membranes of bacteria and the envelope of viruses. Thus, if alcohol is sprayed on hard surfaces or skin, a large number of these pathogens present on them would be killed. That is why alcohol has been used as disinfectants to clean surfaces or as an antiseptic to clean wounds to prevent the spread of infection.

But alcohol has its limitations. It is not effective in destroying spores or viruses with no outer envelope. Repeated use can cause dryness and irritation if it enters the eyes by mistake.

Many alcohol-based sanitizers are claiming that these substances can boost immunity. Immunity is the protection offered by our body’s immune system against infection by foreign pathogens. Disinfectants like alcohol can clean surfaces or skin killing most of the pathogens present on them. This reduces the chance of infectious germs entering our body. But alcohol has no role in influencing the function of the immune system of our bodies against germs that have already entered and infected us.

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