That hand sanitizer you keep at the ready may help your kids miss fewer days of school. Let’s face it, kids are human petri dishes for germs to grow and spread. Any good parent will tell you that hygiene can be a key part of keeping your kids healthy.
Runny noses, sore throats, and infections will likely occur throughout any young child’s life especially if they are in daycare. Researchers found kids who attend daycare are more likely to get an ear or respiratory tract infection than those who are cared for at home.
Hand washing remains the most effective way to prevent infections from spreading. So as your little one learns the basics of good hand hygiene keep in mind the way they are cleaning their hands may make a big difference in whether they get sick.
A new study published in Pediatrics found children who were using hand sanitizer missed fewer days of school compared to children who were washing their hands with soap and water.
More than 900 children ages 0-3 years were followed for an eight-month period. Researchers divided them into groups and examined their hand hygiene routines. One group of children used hand sanitizer only to clean their hands, the other washed their hands with soap and water, and another control group followed guidelines at their daycare center they were attending. Children who were using the hand sanitizer had a lower risk of respiratory infection. Children who were using soap and water actually had a higher risk of respiratory infection episodes. Respiratory infections can include anything from the common cold to something as serious as pneumonia which can be scary for younger children as their immune systems are still developing.
In the study, the group using soap and water had a 21 percent higher risk of getting a respiratory infection compared to the group that was using hand sanitizer. The same soap and water group also had 31% more antibiotic prescriptions.
This is the first study where researchers have measured the impact of using hand sanitizer versus hand washing with soap and water. It could help parents take a more effective approach in teaching their children about proper hygiene and prevent them from getting sick. In fact, the study found a 12% reduction in the number of absences because of illness, in the group that used hand sanitizer to clean their hands.
Keeping a child’s hands clean is an important lesson. The proper hand hygiene routine, which can include hand sanitizer, can go a long way in reducing the number of days a child is absent from daycare or school.