why does hand sanitizer kill bacteria but not skin cells?



What causes skin cells and such to react to it differently than a single cell organism and other various microbes? And please don’t just express that its antibacterial, I would like to know why its antibacterial, and why other cells dont react in a similar way. Thank you for your time dudes/dudettes

In: Biology

Skin is made of several layers. The top several layers of skin cells are dead. You cant kill that which is already dead.

Hand sanitizer is mostly alcohol. It works by breaking down the lipids of the cell membrane. It also does this to skin cells, if it can reach the living cells and even if it does you still have layers of unaffected cells below that.

The top most layer of skin cells is actually dead tissue that has condensed to provide protection. On top of this you have a layer of a protein called keratin. A few layers in you will get actual living cells (that will eventually die and become the top layer and then slough off), but the gaps are sealed so that things like alcohol cant get through

Things with oils in them like moisturizer can penetrate this layer

Also you bring up a good point, alcohol is not just anti-bacterial. Rather its anti-most living things as it will kill a lot more than bacteria if given the chance. Its a shotgun approach to sanitizing our hands, and it really only works on our skin because its the place we have some sort of defense for it.