We, as a society, are becoming increasingly health-conscious and making informed choices. From consuming organic food to using non-toxic products, we opt for good things for ourselves and the environment. One such welcoming move after the outbreak of novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), is the regular use of hand sanitizer to keep our hands free of germs.
Your hands are one of the critical vectors in transmitting infectious organisms. These organisms can be bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens that may persist on various surfaces for many days. When your hands contact these surfaces and then touch your face, these pathogens can quickly enter your body through the eyes, nose, and throat. It can further travel through mucous membranes to the throat and lungs and affect different organs – causing gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.
Given that many adults touch their faces often, it is particularly essential to maintain hand hygiene. These phenomena got more attention during the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to WHO, maintaining hand hygiene is extremely important to prevent coronavirus spread, followed by wearing a face mask and staying at home. Although washing your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds is the simplest and effective method, applying alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a handy way to disinfect your hands.
What is a Hand Sanitizer?
Hand sanitizers are otherwise known as hand rubs or hand antiseptics that you can apply on your hands, to remove common contagious pathogens. These sanitizers typically come in liquid, gel, or foam. Experts recommend using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available for washing hands. The effectiveness and benefits of using hand sanitizer depend upon the ingredients and concoction used. Following are essential hand sanitizer ingredients:
Hand Sanitizer Ingredients
- More than 60% alcohol: Hand sanitizer with over 60% alcohol effectively destroys the lipid envelope of microbes. That means it breaks the outer coating of bacteria and viruses. Alcohol in sanitizer is added in the form of ethanol, n-propanol, or isopropanol. A higher concentration of alcohol will provide better protection to your hands.
- Less than 40% water: Water (aqua) is a part of hydrogel and works as a carrier for the other ingredients in sanitizer.
- Less than 1% of emollients: Most hand sanitizers include emollients such as glycerin that soothe the skin and work as a thickening agent. Emollients can also add fragrance and base color to the sanitizer.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to remove germs from your hands effectively. Also, it would help if you rubbed the sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hand until dry.
Can Hand Sanitizer Keep Your Hand Germs-Free?
Regularly rubbing hands with sanitizer has now become a reflex action across the world. It is because they do help to kill germs and prevent many diseases. Here is what a hand sanitizer can do:
- It can kill 99.9% of germs: If you buy hand sanitizer online or offline with over 70% of alcohol content, it can effectively kill 99.9% of germs that might cause diseases and illnesses. You can use liquid or gel-based hand sanitizer in the absence of soap and water to disinfect your hands.
- It maintains hand hygiene and cleanliness: Moving freely in public places has become riskier now than ever. There can be harmful germs anywhere you travel. Maintaining hand hygiene and cleanliness in various settings, including supermarkets, schools, hospitals, and other places, is now easy with hand sanitizers.
- It reduces the risk of disease and illnesses: Though you may be working from home during COVID-19, there is a chance of exposure from outside. Whether through daily newspapers, groceries, or dairy, you can get infected through various sources. Sanitizing hands before and after touching these things can prevent germs from entering our bodies through hands. It significantly reduces the chances of infections to spread and cause illnesses.
- It moisturizes your hands: Though soap and water are excellent for getting rid of germs, it does tend to dry your hands. Most hand sanitizers, on the other hand, have skin-friendly emollients. It helps to keep your hands hydrated and moisturized, which softens your skin. So, carrying a hand sanitizer is a brilliant way to clean up germs and maintain skin health.
Apart from the ingredients, the effectiveness of hand sanitizer boils down to how you use it. The proper hand rub usage technique includes the following steps:
- Take coin size drop of hand sanitizer in your palm
- Rub both hands palm to palm
- Gently spread it all over and in between fingers
- Do not forget the backside of hand, wrist, fingertips, and under your fingernails
- Make sure you rub it for 20-30 seconds
- After rubbing, let your hands air dry
- Do not wipe your hands until it is dried completely
- Hand sanitizers work best on hands that are not greasy or visibly soiled.
- Sanitizers may not remove pesticides, heavy metal particles, and other harmful chemicals from your hands.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can lessen the number of microbes on your hand but do not guarantee to eliminate all types of germs.
- Homemade hand sanitizers may not be the best in protecting against germs compared to store-bought hand sanitizers.
- Using soap and water offers better hand hygiene than a hand sanitizer. For example, you can remove norovirus particles using soap and water but not hand sanitizer.
- Always keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer away from children. Swallowing them can be very dangerous.
Hand sanitizers are an effective product. So buy hand sanitizer online as the benefits of using hand sanitizer are too many. It would help if you used it in times such as before and after touching a surface that other people might have touched. To break the chain of coronavirus, you must keep yourself protected and take all the necessary steps to fight against infection-causing germs. So, apart from disinfecting your hands from time to time, it is also essential to develop healthy practices. It includes avoiding touching your face, covering your face with a mask when stepping out, and visiting a health care expert if you have any symptoms of coronavirus. Little precautions can go a long way in keeping yourself disease-free.