Although we think of antibiotics as benign, one in five emergency room visits are for antibiotic-adverse effects. These include allergic reactions, clostridium dificile infection and drug interactions. Good hygiene decreases risk of infection.
“We need some bacteria for normal function so our aim should not be to eradicate all bacteria. Just as with the rest of the world there is an ecological balance that is beneficial.”
When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good alternative. Sanitizers with 60-95% alcohol are more effective than less potent or non-alcohol based products. The less potent products may also promote resistance by reducing but not killing the bacteria. They also cause more skin irritation. Heavily soiled or greasy hands should be cleaned with soap and water as other sanitizers become less effective in these settings. Of note, alcohol hand sanitizers are not effective against clostridium dificile.
We need some bacteria for normal function so our aim should not be to eradicate all bacteria. Just as with the rest of the world there is an ecological balance that is beneficial. Fighting antibiotic resistance is a battle that will never be won, but there are steps we can all take to limit the problem of resistant pathogenic bacteria.