If you reach for hand sanitizer any time you make contact with the outside world, you might want to take pause. Unless you're in an especially germ-prone place like a hospital, soap and water will work just fine, says Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Dermatology at the University of California-San Diego.
When you're not near a sink, hand sanitizing gels can help, but be sure to read the label first. Recent research has shown that those containing triclosan may promote bacteria and virus resistance to antibiotic medications (this goes for antibacterial hand soaps that contain triclosan, too). Instead, choose brands like contain at least 60% alcohol, which will kill 99% of bacteria on contact.