Health Dangerous hydroalcoholic gel in the sun? We unravel...

Dangerous hydroalcoholic gel in the sun? We unravel the true from the false!


Spanish doctors alert

In Spain, dermatologists have launched an alert: be careful not to use hydroalcoholic gel at the beach! They explain, in the daily El Mundo, that combined with the sun, the product, because of its high alcohol content, can cause skin burns, especially in young people, who have even more sensitive skin.

The inventor of hydroalcoholic gel denies

But in Switzerland, professor Didier Pittet, who invented the hydroalcoholic gel, denies: “It is not a problem, because once you have applied the gel on your hands, it kills the bacteria, then evaporates completely : there is none at all after twenty to thirty seconds “, he explains. “So I don’t see how, if the gel is applied properly, there could be interaction. In any case, I have never heard of sun burns in my entire career!”

In France, the nuance dermatologists’ union

“There is no problem without the hydroalcoholic gel when you go shopping and there is sun. But if you go sunbathing on the beach, honestly, what interest? Asks Dr Isabelle Rousseaux, member from the office of the Union of Dermatologists who works in Lille. You must use hydroalcoholic gel wisely. On the beach, if you are alone on your towel, there is no risk with the coronavirus! “

Beware of the scents added in the gels

And the doctor added: “There may be risks of dermatitis charmed with the sun, but this is actually due to the perfumes added in certain hydroalcoholic gels. In these perfumes, there are components, such as bergamot for example , which create photosensitization when the skin is exposed to the sun. As a result, it can cause secondary pigmentation. ” In other words, brown spots on the skin, which are then difficult to get rid of …

In summary, it is better to choose your product, already checking that it is compliant, that is to say that it has a CE marking, and eliminating products with too many added components, such as perfumes or essential oils.

Otherwise, there is also the good old tradition of handwashing with soap and water …

Good beach behaviors

Should you put hydroalcoholic gel after a swim?

“If we rubbed our hands with hydroalcoholic gel before a swim, once out, we can rely on it if there are bacteria in the water,” advises Professor Pittet.

But don’t panic about the coronavirus: to date, it seems very unlikely that the Covid-19 will survive in seawater or swimming pools treated with chlorine.

Can we put sunscreen and hydroalcoholic gel?

Yes, but “we must separate things,” advises the vice-president of the Union of dermatologists, Isabelle Gallay, interviewed by LCI.

“Because there is a risk that the gel dissolves or at least weakens the active principle of the sunscreen. You must therefore put your sunscreen well before or after using the gel.”

Besides, “if you just did without sunscreen, there is a risk that your hands will recover bacteria that were on your body. So if you want to eat a sandwich afterwards, don’t forget to wash your hands ! “, adds Professor Pittet.

Can you leave your hydroalcoholic gel in full sun on the beach?

Hydroalcoholic gels are flammable products, but there is no risk that they catch fire on their own, if you simply leave them in the sun on your towel or in your beach bag. On the other hand, it is obviously necessary to avoid spreading it by lighting a cigarette …

On the other hand, Vanessa de La Grange, chemical engineer at the CNRS, advises against exposing the bottles of hydroalcoholic gels to heat, for reasons of product effectiveness: “Ethanol (component of many hydroalcoholic gels, Editor’s note) evaporates at 78 ° C. If the bottle is left in the sun and it is open, there may be a start of evaporation and if the ethanol concentration decreases, there may then be a loss of the biocidal nature of the solution”.


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