Cold and flu season has arrived, but if you think getting your kids to wash their hands is the answer to preventing contact with all those germs, think again. A new study reveals that hand sanitizer is better than hand washing when it comes to preventing sickness in kids.

Keeping hands clean is a vital factor in preventing illness, but as it turns out, how you get those hands clean could make a big difference. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that kids who clean their hands with hand sanitizer versus washing with soap and water were less likely to miss school due to sickness.

Photo: _Alicja_ via Pixabay

The study, which followed 911 kids up to age three who attended day care centers in Spain, showed that in addition missing fewer school days, those kids who used hand sanitizer also had fewer respiratory infections and were prescribed fewer antibiotics. The kids were split into three groups: one that used hand sanitizer, one that used soap and water and a control group that followed the same hand cleaning procedure the day care always used.

The soap and water group were 21 percent more likely to contract a respiratory infection and 31 percent higher risk of needing an antibiotic prescription.

It’s important to note that this study was limited to just kids three and under, who might still be learning proper hand-washing techniques. It should also be noted that the soap used for the soap and water group was not anti-bacterial. Regardless of the results, the key to setting up life-long healthy habits is still clear: getting kids to practice good hygiene and hand cleaning from an early age is critical.

—Shahrzad Warkentin



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