The longest school holiday ever ended this week. After nearly 6 months of not being at school, my daughter was back with her friends, back to learning, back to routine....

But it will be a completely new routine, one awash with hand-sanitizer.

School began with a half-day explanation of the new school rules relating to COVID-19 restrictions. A new one-way system of walking around school, the “bubbling” of her year group, the wearing of masks in-between lessons and in communal areas, the cleaning of desks after each lesson, the non-sharing of any item, frequent hand-washing and the very liberal use of hand-sanitizer (when you enter school, before you put on a mask, after you take off a mask, before and after you eat etc).

I absolutely accept and respect that these measures are to minimise the risk of contracting and spreading Coronavirus, but I have real fear about the over-use of hand-sanitizer on the skin microbiome.

Here is a great quote from an excellent article in Popsci online magazine, from earlier this year:

““One aspect of hand sanitizers that is usually overlooked is that they can affect bodies’ microbiomes in a few ways, and some of these ways could be bad,” says Jonathan Eisen, a microbiologist at the University of California at Davis. While they are killing potentially dangerous microbes, they are also altering the communities of beneficial bacteria on the skin.”

And according to Dr Eisen, in addition to killing off potentially beneficial bacteria, hand sanitizers could also contribute to antibiotic resistance. "Even though they generally do not contain standard antibiotics, when microbes become resistant to some of the sanitizers this can make it easier for them to be resistant to more important antibiotics."

What do you think? In your child’s school, do they encourage hand sanitizer as well as frequnet hand-washing?

Link to Popsci article on hand-sanitizer: