Practicing Hand Hygiene with Hand Sanitizers and Hand Washing

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Hand sanitizers – a product that resounds as a life saver (post coronavirus). This pandemic has transformed the way the world thinks about hand hygiene – both our handwashing and hand sanitizing practices.

Personal hygiene including hand washing and sanitization have been considered as effective measures in preventing the effects of the virus. The commodity which was supposed to be a thing of the West and akin to developed nations has suddenly acquired a Worldwide recognition. Initially, sanitizers were considered an optional product that was used at people’s discretion. But now it seems they have taken a prime spot in daily humdrum and have become an essential part of our routines.  Good hand hygiene is paramount to good health and is one of the simplest ways to reduce your risk of getting sick.  Hand sanitizers can be seen everywhere these days in offices, airports, malls, and most public bathrooms.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in healthcare because it is safe, convenient, and highly effective.

Hand sanitisers can be classified as one of two types: alcohol-based or alcohol-free.  Alcohol-based products typically contain between 60 and 95 percent alcohol.  Hand sanitisers work by killing the microbial cells, the alcohol present is most effective in killing the germs.

Since hand sanitizer made its commercial debut in the early 1990s, there has also been a constant debate on whether it is completely safe and healthy to use.

    1. Hand sanitizers prepared under the recommendation of health organizations and its temporary policies, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, cover only alcohol-based ethanol and isopropyl alcohol hand sanitizers.
    2. Hand sanitizers made using prohibited chemicals can be dangerous, toxic, and can have lethal side effects.
    3. They should be stored out of the reach and sight of children. Should not be stored above105 degrees Fahrenheit. Children under 6 years of age should use it only under adult supervision.
    4. People should not resort to the use of Disinfectants sprays or Wipes on the skin because these are not intended for use on humans and animals and are only meant for hard and non-porous non-living surfaces.

When and How To Use A Hand Sanitiser Effectively:

Hand sanitizer should be used when soap and water are not readily available. Consider using hand sanitizer during these key moments:

  1. After visiting your local grocery store
  2. Before and after visiting a public place
  3. After touching handrails (or other surfaces commonly touched by others)

Take a small amount (thumbnail size) on the palm of your hand and rub briskly until dry, not to forget your nail beds and between your fingers. A simple check can be noticed, if the gel evaporates completely in under 15 seconds, enough of the sanitiser has not been used.

Benefits Of Using A Hand Sanitizer:

  1. Kills bacteria – Hand sanitizer has proved to be effective at reducing the number of sick days in work environments as well as preventing the spread of viruses at schools.
  2. Easy to use and convenient – portable bottles of sanitizers can be carried in cars and purses and are effective if rubbed on the palms for a minimum of 20 sec
  3. Easily accessible – can be a life saver when soap and water are not available
  4. Cost effective and long lasting – with a high shelf life of 2 to 3 years, they are relatively inexpensive

Limitations Of Using Hand Sanitizers:

Albeit how indispensable sanitizers can appear to be in safeguarding ourselves from the pandemic the over usage of alcohol-based sanitizer is likely to create several health hazards like allergic reactions particularly in kids and infants.

  1. The right formulation is important: Check the label for active ingredients.  Sanitizers can debilitate the skin and disrupt the benign bacteria that beat the norovirus and other pathogens. As a result, medical experts have been warning time and again, over the usage of alcohol-based hand sanitizer could inversely raise the risk of infections via skin disorders.
  2. They do not cut through grime: To remove grease, dirt or blood, hand washing with soap and water is advisable.
  3. They weaken the immunity: Frequent use causes a resistance to both good and bad bacteria. As a matter of fact Sanitizers are a little too good at killing bacteria. They also kill the bacteria that are beneficial for our body which in turn can harm our healthy bacterial community.

The only solution to this is that people should use hand sanitizer cautiously and prudently.  At a time when hand hygiene is so important, yet misconceptions are common, it’s significant for us to comprehend the realities about hand sanitizers.   DIY hand sanitizer can do more harm than good : if not made correctly and properly it can be ineffective and result in skin burns or allergies in acute conditions.

From cell phones to Kitchen counters, all surfaces we touch are riddled with germs. The Covid-19 crisis has let to a tug of war between soaps and hand sanitizers and we have no clear winner.

When keeping your hands clean, there is a role for both soap and water, and hand sanitizer. Evaluate the situation and decide based on whether your hands are visibly soiled, your skin condition, any time constraints, and your setting (e.g. if there is a sink nearby).

To recapitulate Covid-19 has brought the World to a grinding halt. It has left a trail of tears and uncertainty and has put millions on the edge where everyone is finding themselves suddenly placed in a state of emergency. As they say, Prevention is always better than cure…Wearing masks, Following Social Distancing, Washing Hands frequently and Sanitizing seems like an exhaustive and cohesive path to safeguarding oneself.

Stay home & Stay Safe.


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