Health Headlines: Excessive cleaning might make allergies worse

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:28 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It’s been called Hygiene Hypothesis, all the scrubbing and wiping we do to keep COVID and germs at bay may instead be disrupting our body’s natural defense systems.

Anti-bacterial soap for our hands and antimicrobial cleaner for surfaces. During COVID, Americans certainly upped their germ-cleaning game. But some researchers like Dr. Stephen Dinetz with Nemours Children’s Hospital say there might be such a thing as too clean.

“What we’re seeing right now is definitely there is an uptick in both food and environmental allergies.”

Dr. Dinetz is a pediatric allergist who gives talks about the long-running hygiene hypothesis.

“The hygiene hypothesis is a theory that with cleaner environments, antibacterial soaps, that we are not getting exposed to the appropriate levels of allergens in the environment.”

That means, especially for kids, their immune systems don’t have a chance to fight germs and build up immunity. But is there a link between anti-bacterial cleaning like during COVID, and children’s desensitization to germs and allergens?

“I definitely think it’s a valid concern.”

For now, Dr. Dinetz tells parents to let kids be kids and not let a fear of germs to keep them from playing and interacting with others.

“So, that way they can have the normal reactions to things in their environment.”

According to the CDC, the rate of food allergies has increased by 50% since 1997. But, they say Environmental allergies have been harder to track.