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Why I’m Anti Antibacterial Gel

November 17, 2010

This post will be a bit controversial and many of you will be appalled.

Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not going to die by not using antibacterial gel. I’m also not going to be annihilated because I don’t get a flu shot. And I fed Sophie peanut butter before her first birthday.

I can hear the gasps, the cries. What kind of mother am I? Am I walking on death’s door? But the truth is – and this is my truth – I am a big believer in the saying, “That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

I feel like society has become way too crazed about germs, viruses and allergies. When I was growing up, we did not get flu shots or immunized for chicken pox. In fact, when my parents heard the neighbor kids came down with chicken pox, my sisters and I were practically forced into their house so we’d contract the virus ourselves. This was common practice. But if this happened today, Child Protective Services would be called on such horrific parenting.

I’m not trashing vaccines. We don’t want to go back to the days of polio and measles. But really, what was so awful about chicken pox?

And while we’re on the subject of vaccines, let’s talk about the flu shot. I am not a believer it the flu shot. I have only once in my life been given that inoculation and, coincidentally, I came down with the flu several days later. I’ve only had the flu two other times in my adult life. My thinking is that our bodies need bacteria and need to build our own immunities so we can successfully fight off future germs and viruses. And really, is the flu that bad for healthy adults? If I get the flu (which I probably will after writing this), I look at it as my body needing to re-boot itself.

Again, I’m talking about me. I’m not talking about the sick or elderly, or even small children. For those of you curious, yes, I did get Sophie the preservative-free flu shot. I don’t know if this is something I’ll continue long-term. But for now, it’s what I chose. Call me a hypocrite; call me a responsible parent. I’m not sure either.

So let’s move on to what’s really going to get the hate-mail sent to me: antibacterial gels. I hate them! I hate how people lather on the stuff thinking they’ll be safe from the common cold and flu. People, it’s not making us safer. In fact, there is quite a bit of research showing that many of the gels do very little to prevent bacteria, and are actually toxic (especially for children who suck their thumbs or fingers). I’m old-fashioned; I prefer soap and water.

And then the final topic of this rant: allergies. Don’t you think it’s strange that there are so many food allergies now and how many of us parents were told not to give our children foods until they reached a certain age? Take peanut butter for an example. If I followed my pediatrician’s guidelines, I wouldn’t have given Sophie peanut butter until she turned 2-years-old. But I’m a rebel (clearly) and gave it to her early.

I’m not saying peanut allergies – or any other food allergies – should be taken lightly. What am I saying? I’m saying that perhaps waiting too long to introduce certain foods to a child is actually causing more harm than good.

So there you have it. Why I won’t get the flu shot, use antibacterial gel, and why I think society is way too cautious about foods. Am I going to ruin Sophie and future generations? Maybe. But my generation (and those before me) seemed to turn out okay. I guess only time will tell.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2010 1:25 am

    Agree with you 100%. When my son was born I sterilised everything as all new mothers were told to do back then. Then I did some research, much of which said that if we sterilise everything, the child never gets to develop their own immunity before the mother’s coverage “expires”. With my daughter, I didn’t sterilise. Guess which child was always sick and which one never was?

    Hayfever is increasing in incidence in developed countries. I got it in my forties. But I only get it in the city – in the country (more trees, more grasses, more pollen) I don’t have a problem.

    Give me good old soap and water any day.

  2. Wendi permalink
    November 18, 2010 5:17 am

    I am totally with you on antibacterial gel or really anything proclaiming to be antibacterial. When Greg worked at SDSU he did some research on the waste water being dumped into the ocean off of San Diego and it showed that the compounds found in antibacterial products were not being “cleaned” out of the water before it was dumped (he also found sunscreen, ibuprofen and a multitude of other drugs including hormones and cancer drugs). So we’re filling up our oceans, rivers and streams with chemicals that are going to kill or mutate aquatic life. Not to mention that the same antibacterial compounds are already being found in our bloodstreams and breast milk because it’s in our drinking water. So that’s my rant on antibacterials.

    One note on giving peanut butter at an early age – our pediatricians (both in San Diego & here) recommended that if we were going to give it to our kids early that it be spread in thin amounts on the bread because it’s a choking hazard. I also wonder if avoiding certain foods like peanut butter during pregnancy has attributed to increased allergies because of lack of exposure.

  3. September 19, 2011 6:03 am

    Found this post through your Seven Links Challenge. I’m with you on the hand gel front. My kids were never ever sick growing up. In fact, sometimes just because every couple of years I’d let them stay home a day with sniffles so they wouldn’t miss out on that wonderful experience of lounging in bed while their classmates worked. I believe my kids never had a single childhood illness, big or small, because they spent the first eight years of their life in a Russian orphanage surrounded by I don’t want to think about what kind of germs. None of their Russian friends who moved here got sick either. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, eh? (On the other hand, I do wish they had treated my daughter’s asthma properly. That’s another story).

    • September 22, 2011 9:50 pm

      Completely agree with you. And I was the same way growing up. Never sick (although I used to wish I was to stay home). And there was no anti-bacterial gel then.

  4. September 19, 2011 6:10 am

    I’m with you! Plain soap and water is the best thing for washing hands. And I agree that we need to be exposed to things in our environment to build up our immune systems. They need a workout to stay strong just like our muscles do.

    • September 22, 2011 9:50 pm

      Thank you, Shary! I’m glad there’s someone else out there that believes this philosophy.

  5. September 19, 2011 8:46 am

    I understand your perspective. I think in our politically correct society we’ve reached almost a ‘nanny state’ and it’s at the protective point where it’s messing up our natural biology.
    On the antibacterial gel , for us, we like to use it after we’ve been trekking or out shopping and want to eat some of snacks on the way home. Hopefully the gel at least gets the grim/dust off our hands.
    I use antibacterial gel for bug bites until we can get home to use the lanacane. It seems to help sooth the irritation and itch for a short period of time.
    In general I agree with you about the antibacterial gel being over-advertised with outrageous claims, but it has a descent price tag and the shelf life is attractive too, so for us it does have a few handy aspects. 😉

    • September 22, 2011 9:52 pm

      Yes, I agree with you. And as much as I don’t rely on that stuff to wade off the flu, I do keep a small bottle of it in the car for emergencies or if our hands get filthy. It’s probably better than nothing when you really are dirty. Glad you get my perspective too. 🙂

  6. September 19, 2011 12:10 pm

    I am completely with you here. Women have been having babies long before allergies, vaccines and hand santizers, and yet somehow the human race has persisted. It’s a miracle.

    • September 22, 2011 9:52 pm

      Thank you, Sara! And really, what did we ever do before hand sanitizer. Clearly not that well (oh wait, we did).

  7. September 21, 2011 11:34 am

    As a survivor of drinking from a warm Garden hose, the old spigott at the barn, a crib with lead paint, and farmyard menagerie of e-coli sources not to mention chicken pox, cold sores and other such delights … I couldn’t agree more.

    Plus – I don’t like how that goo makes my skin feel. Gross!

    • September 22, 2011 9:53 pm

      I know, I hate the smell of that stuff and feeling on my skin. And I do think that you’re an excellent example of how you can live well without the stuff. Thank you.

  8. September 25, 2011 6:41 pm

    I’m a fan of the chicken pox vaccination (and oh how I wish there would have been a vaccination for rotavirus [sp?]) whe Abby was a baby, but I am not a fan of the hand sanitzer products. I agree that it’s good to be exposed to germs. That’s why I didn’t flip out if Abby got a hold of the dog toys. Actually, I stopped caring about hand sanitzer stuff after Abby started going to daycare– that’s when I realized it was a lost cause…that when you put a bunch of babies together in a room, they’re going to get sick (and pass it along to me) no matter what. And now, we both have pretty strong immune systems.


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