She carries Lola and comes out of the car. With her free hands she brings out her house keys and opens the door, sets Lola on the sofa and shuts the door. Funmi does all these absent-mindedly.
She is still ruminating over what she learnt at the Moms Forum. Aunty Pharmacist had talked about the impact of handwashing on the health of kids. True, she had known all along that handwashing was a good habit. It simply had not dawned on her it’s full implication. Now she understands why Lola would have frequent bouts of diarrhoea when school is in session. Could this also be the reason for the on and off coughs? Just last week she had “pinky eyes”. She frequently uses antibiotics on her. Now she is wiser.
Funmi jolts back to the moment.
Lola has been calling her.
“I am hungry”
She brings out some bananas, and is about to peel them. Pause. Germs! She takes them to the kitchen and washes them. This germ thing was really getting to her.
Bananas were Lola’s favourite snacks so she to grabs them.
“Not so fast, girl” Funmi said firmly.
“You need to wash your hands”
“Oh mommy, but why?”
“Because there could be germs on your hands. If you don’t wash them off, you could get sick. Then we would have to take you to the hospital”
She got her there! She hates the hospital, so she gladly cooperates with Mom.
She reaches out for the liquid soap in the kitchen. Pause.
“Let’s go to the bathroom and use antiseptic soap instead. They will deal with the germs better”
So off they go to the bathroom for an antiseptic handwash.
Satisfied, Funmi sets her daughter on the dining table and allows her to relish her banana
Dear Funmi, I admire your love and care for your daughter. You want what is best for her. But guess what? The liquid soap in your kitchen could equally have done the job of getting rid of germs as well as the antibacterial soap.
What’s more the antibacterial soap even does more harm than good.
Research shows they offer zero health benefits. But by changing the makeup of your skin and body bacteria, antibacterials may be fostering new health concerns—especially for kids.
Here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t use an antiseptic soap for handwashing:
1. The antibacterial chemicals used in antiseptic soaps are essentially antibiotics. They are effective in killing bacteria, but do not kill viruses, which are the cause of colds and the flu.
2. The most susceptible bacteria strains are killed when washing your hands, leaving behind the stronger bacteria. This can lead to strains of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
3. Researchers are finding a link between allergies and the use of antibacterial soaps. These soaps reduce the need for the immune system to be strengthened, which can cause allergy problems as well.
As you can see, antibacterial soaps (and cleaners, too!) can potentially cause much more harm than good.
Of course, I am not talking about the use of it in hospitals or use by people with special health concerns that require its use. But for everyday use, antibacterial soaps can be a very unhealthy option.
Happy Global Handwashing Day.
To the health of our kids and ours.