Like many people in workplaces far and wide, two weeks ago I was struck down with the flu.
The fever came and went and then I became the gross snuffly colleague, typing away with one hand, with fingers reaching to the tissue box the other. Then, in an effort to not be phlegm-infused pariah among work mates, room mates and friends, I bought a bottle of hand sanitiser.
About four years late to the party, I proceeded to gleefully wipe down my mouse, keyboard and desk surface, and attacked my hands with reckless abandon, admittedly drunk off my new-found cleanly smugness.
And then I realised that I was wrong. Very wrong.
LISTEN: Not so keen on hand sanitiser? How about a tongue scraper? TV Presenter Nick Tobias shares the way a daily tongue scraping has changed his life, on Can’t Live Without. Post continues after audio.
The problem with hand sanitiser is that they’re only anti-bacterial and not anti-viral – which is what causes the majority of colds, and flu, says the very qualified Dr Grant Hill-Cawthorne who is the Senior Lecturer in Communicable Disease Epidemiology at University of Sydney.
“The vast majority of things that people have this time a year are viral,” he says.
“Actually, nine times out of ten if you contract an infection or a tummy bug, or something like that, it’s going to be a virus.”
Thus making your hand sanitiser redundant.
But the bacteria! I hear you say, what about the bacteria?
Well, it turns out we should be leaving our bodies alone to do their own thing.
Instead our over-reliance on anti-bacterial products could be killing off our “friendly bacteria,” the kind that helps us fight pathogenic, infection causing strains.
“It’s a balancing act,” he says.