Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Purell is Trying to Kill Us

I was just sitting here, clicking away, reading some other mom-type blogs, because it's a good way to kill time and avoid folding the laundry. I came across one lady who said something very interesting. She said she was sick, and that she feels like she's always getting sick, and can catch anyone's germs. Then in the next sentence, she said,

"The thing that is bizarre is that I'm very much a clean freak. I wash my hands in scalding hot water many times daily. Lysol is my friend on all kitchen and bath surfaces."

Well, I have some news for you. I don't think Lysol is your friend at all. In fact, I've been meaning to talk about this very subject. All you obsessive users of the hand-sanitizer and the Lysol just need to stop. Really. You're going to kill us all.

You may think you're keeping yourself and your kids healthier by trying to maintain a germ-free environment, but what you're really doing is sanitizing yourselves right out of an immune system. Your body needs to be exposed to germs to build its defenses and immunities. That's the way our bodies are designed.

Case in point: I had this friend (actually, she was a friend of a friend, she was too full of crazy to hang out with for any sustained period of time) who cleaned her house with bleach. Every surface in her house was sanitized, and she obsessively washed her own hands and those of her two small daughters. She disinfected every shopping cart, every fast-food restaurant table, and anything else that might have those nasty germs on it. The girls were pretty healthy, until guess what? They went to school, and they were sick constantly. They had never been exposed to...anything, and therefore their little bodies had no immunity to anything.

I have a confession to make: I don't use hand sanitizer. Ever. I don't make my kids wash their hands every time they have a cracker. If there is visible dirt, then yes, we wash. We wash our hands after using the toilet. I don't wipe down the shopping cart handle before I touch it. I didn't use one of those shopping cart cover things for the babies to sit in. I *gasp* don't use paper toilet seat covers in public restrooms. In other words, I'm really not concerned about coming in contact with germs in everyday life. None of us has ever had a flu shot, and coincidentally (or not), none of us has ever had the flu, either.

Guess how often I get sick? Never. Guess how often my kids get sick? Hardly ever. Kylie had strep this past June, but other than that, I can't remember the last time any of the three of them were sick. Oh, and just to add insult to injury, I didn't breastfeed any of them. So according to the "research", they should be less healthy than their breastfed, hand-sanitizing, Lysol-mom-spraying counterparts, right? Only that's definitely not the case.

I'm not saying that occasionally washing your hands with soap is a bad thing. It's probably a good thing. But the quest to have our kids living in a germ-free environment is not doing them any favors. Let 'em eat dirt once in a while...it's not going to kill them, I promise. It'll probably make them healthier. ;)


Fannie Mae said...

AMEN! And I'll speak for my sister (Sib #2, who taught pre-school) a little dirt never killed anyone. But dudes, are you reading the paper? All the drug resistant staph bacteria? Is going to get worse if we don't stop the madness!

slouching mom said...

Right -- the MRSA situation may have been precipitated by the overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps.

I couldn't agree more -- we've stopped using any type of antibacterial product in our house.

Anonymous said...

I'm exactly the same as you almost to a tee. Megan was so healthy when I took her in at 5 years the ped was shocked she'd been in daycare since 6 weeks old and never been on an antibiotic.

The boys have actually been slightly on the sicker side since going to school, but that's to be expected.

Heck, when I went to the doc last week for this sinus infection I had he commented that I was rarely there for an acute illness. But, my best friend who's constantly doing the hand sanitizer and cleans with straight bleach was sick for weeks straight last winter. I still tell her not to use that stuff.


Anonymous said...

Oh, now that I think about it, Megan has NEVER been on an antibiotic and she's 13. :) Sean as a preventative when he had a fever at 6 weeks. The twins haven't yet, either.


Lish said...

I've been preaching this for years, to deaf ears! We're having some of that staph crap going around neighboring schools here right now (at a school we just played a couple of weeks ago too...GREEEEEEAT!)

Sheri said...

I totally agree with you!

Shelley said...

I've decided to delete anonymous comments. I know not everyone uses Google/Blogger, and that's fine, but if you're going to comment, at least sign your name, like Alice does! Thanks Alice! :)

Jennifer said...

Shelly, I did a little research on my own and found articles like these:

Killing germs on your hands decreases your immunity.

Truth or Myth?


1. The skin on your body is covered with microorganisms.
2. Our environment is contaminated with microorganisms.
3. You cannot kill all of the microorganisms on your hands.
4. Your large intestine contains large numbers of microorganisms.
5. All of the sources listed above stimulate your immune response.
6. Health Care Workers CDC guidelines call for alcohol rubs to be used 60 or more times a day between patients and after touching contaminated surfaces.
7. Killing germs on your hands will not decrease your immunity but it will help prevent infections.

Reference: http: www.learnwell.org/handhygiene.htm

And then there's this from Children's Hospital:

Q: Can alcohol-based hand sanitizers make bacteria more resistant to antibiotics?
A: No. Many people have heard about this problem with antibacterial products, which contain antibiotics and can contribute to making bacteria resistant. One advantage of alcohol-based hand sanitizers is that they do not contain antibiotics, so they will not make bacteria more resistant!


Trenches of Mommyhood said...

I liked this post. Like you, I am NOT a germaphobe. With 3 boyz, it's a losing battle anyways. But we're all pretty healthy in the Trenches, so I'm not going to change what I'm doing--which is pretty much not obsessing over germs.