Food Allergies,  Hand Sanitizers and COVID

Food Allergies, Hand Sanitizers and COVID

Posted by Theresa Marie Green on 7th Dec 2020

When my son was first diagnosed with food allergies, almost 15 years ago, the hygiene hypothesis was booming.The hygiene hypothesis is the belief that a lot of cleaning and hand-washing weakens your immune system.When he was first born, I recall having the antibacterial soaps in the bathrooms and kitchen.In addition, we had hand sanitizer attached to our diaper bag.We wanted to do everything right and keep our baby healthy and safe.

My son was diagnosed with food allergies when he was almost one.At that time I did not think our family had any history of food allergies and I was baffled.I later found out that my mother had an allergy to red foods, such as strawberries.Honestly, I was in denial that my son had a food allergy until he had a severe enough reaction.And then allergy testing confirmed the pediatricians theory.I remember leaving the allergists office and thinking, now what.I was just trying to stay sane and adjust to having our first baby. I felt like I had mommy brain 24/7 and didn’t have time to try to rationalize why he would have food allergies. I just knew that I had to keep him safe and avoid all nuts.Avoiding nuts became our new normal.Up until his nut allergy was diagnosed, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were my quick go-to’s.Sunbutter was our savior.(If you haven’t tried Sunbutter, don’t walk to Target, RUN!)

Later down the road, we started to hear about the hygiene hypothesis.Did I influence my son’s food allergy by overdoing the hand sanitizer and antibacterial soaps? According to allergist and immunologist, James Fernandez, MD, PhD, there is no scientific evidence to support this theory.But we felt it wasn’t worth the risk and started reducing the use of hand sanitizer and antibacterial soaps.

Several years later, the world is facing Covid. And who doesn’t have hand sanitizer in every nook and cranny of their life? I have hand sanitizer gels and sprays everywhere! I had a friend ask me today if I’m concerned how the use of these products will effect us in the future.Her question brought me back in time and definitely reinstituted concerns on how hand sanitizers will effect us down the road.

What are your thoughts about hand sanitizer?