No, all COVID-19 hand washing is not going to ‘weaken’ your immune system.


During the COVID-19 epidemic, we are constantly being reminded to practice good hygiene by washing our hands and regularly cleaning the places where we live and work.

These practices aim to remove or kill the coronaviruses that cause COVID-19, and thereby reduce the risk of infection.

But there have been some suggestions about using hand sanitizers and practicing other hygiene measures, which can often weaken our immune system, reducing our body exposure to germs and with it our immune defenses There is a chance to “train”.

The good news is that there is no evidence of this happening.

‘Hygiene hypothesis’

For healthy immune function, it is important that we are exposed to a wide range of insects in the environment, known as microbes. Most of these do not make us sick.

The belief that high levels of cleanliness and personal hygiene weaken our immune system is a general explanation of what is called the “hygiene hypothesis”.

The hypothesis of hygiene is a theory that states that a young child’s environment can be “very clean”, and that they will not be sufficient to stimulate their germ to develop these germs effectively.

The reasoning is that it aggravates allergies, asthma and some autoimmune disorders. But scientists have refuted this hypothesis in recent years, as research has shown that there are many other reasons for the increasing incidence of these conditions.

The important thing is that being too dirty does not help our immune system either. This generally makes inflammation worse.

What is immune system

The immune system works to protect our bodies from the things that threaten to make us sick – from harmful chemicals, from bacteria and viruses, to cancer cells.

It is made up of two lines of defense. The first is the “innate” immune system, which reacts rapidly to a range of pathogens to fight infection and prevent tissue damage.

Next is the “adaptive” immune system, which is made up of immune cells that develop more targeted or specific responses to fight germs of viruses such as viruses. Adaptive immune cells work outside the infected cell (for example, lung cells) by detecting small parts of the virus and destroying them.

These cells then form what we call “memory cells”. The next time they encounter the same virus, they can eliminate it directly.

This development of the immune system begins after birth and declines in old age.

Can weaken our immune system?

Some aspects of our modern lifestyle can weaken our immune system. Contains:

But there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that additional hygiene precautions will weaken our immune system or make us more susceptible to infection by bacteria or viruses.

Microorganisms are everywhere: in the air, on food, and in plants, animals, soil, and water. They can be found on every surface including inside and outside your body.

Hygiene measures suggested during COVID-19 will help curb the spread of coronaviruses and reduce our risk of infection – but will not eliminate all germs from our lives.

keep it clean

Cleaning refers to removing germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it reduces their numbers and therefore reduces the risk of spreading the infection.

In contrast, disinfectants use chemicals, known as disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces.

A combination of cleaning and disinfection is the most effective way to get rid of germs such as coronovirus.

Extra hand hygiene is definitely one of the most important infection control measures.

We have been advised to clean our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If this is not possible, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropanol.

Repeated hand washing, especially if a sanitizer is used, can disrupt the natural skin biome, leading to increased skin infections. This can be managed with the use of moisturizer.

But additional hygiene measures during COVID-19 will not weaken our immune system. On the contrary, they are important in controlling the epidemic.

If you are worried about your immune system, do not stop washing your hands or keeping your house clean. Importantly, follow a healthy balanced diet, exercise regularly and take care of your mental health.

Vaso Apostolopos, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Partnership, University of Victoria; Maja Hussairi, lecturer; MD of the University of Victoria, University of Victoria and Maximilian de Curtain, Health Policy Lead and Professor in Global Public Health.

This article is republished from Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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