"Although alcohol-based formulas that comply with federal composition
standards generally are considered effective, alcohol-based antiseptic hand
wash preparations are flammable and do not demonstrate persistent
antimicrobial activity. Also, repeated use often can cause drying and
irritation of the skin.(8) Alcohol strips the skin of essential oils and
sebum, which act as a natural protective barrier against bacterial
infection and precipitate protein.(9) When applied to wounds or raw
surfaces, therefore, it not only increases the risk of injury, but also
forms a coagulum under which bacteria may subsequently thrive.(10) It is,
therefore, not useful for the disinfection of open lesions or abraded,
inflamed skin. Together, these and other adverse properties greatly limit
the alcohol-based antimicrobial product's immediate effectiveness and
increase the chances for the spread of infection.
"The most widely used hand sanitizers are gels and foams that rely on
alcohol as the main antimicrobial ingredient. Alcohol, however, solubilizes
and strips away sebum and lipids that guard against bacterial infections of
the skin.(3) Extensive use of alcohol-containing hand sanitizers actually
increases the skin's susceptibility to infection by transient
disease-causing bacteria. This situation can increase the chances of
spreading disease-causing microorganisms among patients."
The threat of spreading disease could be avoided by using alcohol-free hand
sanitizers that complement, rather than compromise, the natural barrier
functions of the skin. An acceptable alcohol-free formula would require an
antimicrobial agent that kills a wide variety of disease-causing
microorganisms, including gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, fungus,
and molds. This formula also would need to allow the active ingredient to
penetrate the skin while minimizing skin irritation."
"repeated use of the alcohol-based sanitizers produced a decrease in
antimicrobial effectiveness over time and was accompanied by swelling,
erythema, and discomfort of the palmar surface of subjects' hands.
Importantly, by the completion of both the rinsing and non rinsing
protocols, antimicrobial persistence of the SAB formula was so pronounced
that its performance exceeded federal requirements for antiseptic hand
washes by at least 50%. The tested alcohol-based hand sanitizers, however,
failed to meet this federal standard in both the rinse and non rinse
"A unique balance of penetration and non irritation is attained when BAC is
combined with surfactants and allantoin. This type of alcohol-free
sanitizer formula is absorbed rapidly into the skin with little impact on
the skin's natural barrier function and is predicted to be more useful and
effective as a rinse-free hand sanitizer than alcohol-containing formulas."
This year, I think I'll bring an alcohol-free formula (perhaps a 2% tea tree oil concoction; Zim's Hand Sanitizer - which, at least according to this article, seems like the best bet; or an herbal hand sanitizer)...and I figured I'd throw out the suggestion to all of you.
Besides, I've always had a gut reaction against hand sanitizers (or anything that claims to kill that many germs, or generally being germ phobic), but on the playa, sanitation options become scarce, since water is limited. And hey, those portapotties are gross.