Could I be using hand sanitizer too frequently? For example, I'll use it after shaking someone's hand that appears to be sick, or in the car, after I've been grocery shopping.

Lisa Adams, CRNP, is a certified nurse practitioner at Paoli Hospital, a part of Main Line Health.

Avoiding germs and keeping your hands clean is never a bad thing. Many common illnesses can be contracted through germs picked up through person-to-person contact or from counter tops, doorknobs, and other shared surfaces. By using hand sanitizer regularly, you can not only decrease your risk for contracting other germs, but also decrease the risk of sharing your own.

It is important to note that while hand sanitizer can be an effective disinfectant, it shouldn¹t be the only method. Make sure to wash your hands regularly. Try to use sanitizer only when soap and water is unavailable. Some viruses or diseases can be immune to sanitizer. That is why traditional hand washing is so important. Don¹t think of hand sanitizers as a replacement, think of them as a supplement.

Keep in mind that while protecting yourself and your immune system from illness is important, it is also important to make sure your body is exposed to some germs. By over-cleaning your hands and protecting yourself too much, you could actually be increasing your chances of getting sick by not allowing your body the opportunity to be exposed to bacteria or germs. A little sniffling and sneezing now and then can actually be good for you.

If you find yourself getting sick frequently, make an appointment to speak with your health care provider.