If you have super filthy hands and you disinfect them, don’t you then have a bunch of bacteria corpses on your hands? Is there anything wrong with being covered in microscopic dead bodies?

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If you have super filthy hands and you disinfect them, don’t you then have a bunch of bacteria corpses on your hands? Is there anything wrong with being covered in microscopic dead bodies?

In: Biology

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Would it not just become food for the helpful/ other bacteria/microscopic organisms in the area?

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Disinfectant has to get to the bacteria/virus. Dirt and oils cover them up, protecting them from the disinfectant. It’s recommended to clean hands first then for added protection, disinfect the clean hands. Same goes for surfaces.

Adhesion is one of the crucial parts of bacteria pathogenicity. When a bacteria that lives on your skin dies, it falls off.

But the pure truth is that hand sanitiser doesn’t actually do that much to disinfect your hands. Neither does washing your hands for a few seconds. You need to properly scrub your hands to get at the bacteria that have infiltrated the first cell layers of your skin. Your skin is made up of hundreds of layers of cells, and bacteria sneaks down into the first couple of layers and lives there.

What hand sanitiser does is prevent contact spread. It kills the bacteria and viruses that are on the very surface of your hands, so stops you from literally picking up new bugs from your environment before they have a chance to penetrate the first cell layers of your skin, and stops you from laying them down on new surfaces.

This is correct. When you wash things, you’re removing any stuff stuck to the surface, but adding hand sanitizer or spraying on disinfectant doesn’t actually remove anything.

That said, there isn’t anything wrong with being covered in dead (or even living) microbes. There’s microbes everywhere, on every surface, at all times. The overwhelming majority of them are completely harmless and normal. It’s only certain types that are bad, although there are some normal microbes that can be bad if they get into the wrong part of the body (like if you get some of your own poo into an injury, the bacteria that were harmless in your intestines can cause a nasty infection).