Hand sanitizer, also called as hand antiseptic, hand rub, agent applied to the hands for the eliminating common pathogens (disease-causing organisms) purposes. Hand sanitizers usually come in foam, gel, and liquid form. Their usage is recommended when soap and water aren’t available for hand washing and when repeated hand washing compromises the natural skin barrier (for example, causing scaling or fissures to develop in the skin). Though the effectiveness of hand sanitizer is variable, it’s employed as an easy means of infection control in various settings, from care centers and schools to hospitals, health care clinics, supermarkets, and cruise ships.
Types of Hand Sanitizers
Depending on the active ingredient used, hand sanitizers may be classified as one of 2 types, alcohol-based and alcohol-free. Alcohol-based goods contain between 60 to 95% alcohol, usually in the form of ethanol and isopropanol. At those focusses, alcohol instantly denatures proteins, efficiently neutralizing certain kinds of microorganisms.2,4,6 Alcohol-free products are usually based on disinfectants like benzalkonium chloride (BAC), or on antimicrobial agents like triclosan. The activity of disinfectants or antimicrobial agents is both immediate and persistent. Several hand sanitizers contain emollients (for example, glycerin) that soothe the skin, thickening agents, and fragrance.
The effectiveness of hand sanitizer depends on multiple factors, involving the manner in which the product is applied (for example frequency of use, the quantity used, and duration of exposure) and whether the particular infectious agents present on the hands of person are susceptible to the active ingredient in the product. Generally, alcohol-based sanitizers, if rubbed carefully over the finger and hand surfaces for 30 secs, followed by air-drying, can proficiently reduce populations of bacteria, and enveloped viruses (for example, influenza A viruses).
The same impacts are reported for specific alcohol-free formulations such as SAB (surfactant, allantoin, and BAC) hand sanitizer. Most hand sanitizers, however, are relatively ineffective against bacterial spores, nonenveloped viruses (for example, norovirus), and encysted parasites. They do not cleanse fully and sanitize the skin when hands are soiled prior to application.
In spite of the variability in effectiveness, sanitizers can control the transmission of infectious diseases, mostly in settings where compliance with handwashing is weak. For example, among kids in the schools, the incorporation of an alcohol-based and an alcohol-free sanitizer into classroom programs is associated with decreases in absenteeism related to infectious illness. Likewise, in the office or workplace, the usage of alcohol-based sanitizers is linked with reductions in illness episodes and sick days. In hospitals and health-care clinics, increased access to alcohol-based sanitizer is related to improvements in hand hygiene.
How It Works
When sanitizers first came out, there was small research showing what they’d and did not do, but that has changed. More research requires to be done, but scientists are learning more all the time. The active element in hand sanitizers is isopropyl alcohol, the similar form of alcohol (ethanol, n-propanol), or a combination of them. Alcohols have long been known for killing microbes by dissolving their protective outer layer of proteins and disrupting their metabolism.
2. According to the CDC, research shows that hand sanitizer kills germs as efficiently as washing your hands with soap and water until your hands are visibly dirty and greasy. They do not eliminate potentially harmful chemicals.3
Hand sanitizers do not kill some common germs soap and water do remove like:
- Clostridium difficile
When to Use a Hand Sanitizer
Get a sanitizer with 60% alcohol (minimum). Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly decrease the number of germs on hands, but according to the CDC, they don’t eliminate all kinds of germs. Hand sanitizer with less than 60% alcohol cannot work as well for various types of germs and it tends to just decrease the number of germs versus destroying them. Hand washing is more efficient than hand sanitizer at removing certain types of germs such as norovirus, Clostridium difficile, and Cryptosporidium. But hand sanitizer that’s alcohol-based can inactivate several types of germs effectively when used correctly.
How to Use It
When hand sanitizers do work, their effectiveness is based on many factors. Furthermore, to which product you use, they include:
- How much you use
- Proper technique
Some circumstances in which a hand sanitizer’s use can be proper, involve when you are using public transportation, have shaken hands or touched an animal, after you touched a grocery cart, and so on.
To use hand sanitizer correctly:
- Apply the recommended amount in your hand’s palm. (Read the directions of the manufacturer.)
- then start rubbing your hands, including between your fingers.
- When your skin is dry, then stop rubbing
Take care to keep alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel out of the reach of young kids, as it may be very dangerous if swallowed. The higher alcohol content can be fatal to a young kid.
When Not to Use It
Hand sanitizer should not be used rather than soap and water when:
- Washing is convenient
- Your hands are greasy and visibly dirty
- You’ve chemicals on your hands
- You can be exposed to infectious agents that are not killed by hand sanitizer
- You are in a high-infection condition
To keep yourself and your family healthy, it is particularly important to clean your hands after you have used the restroom and prepared food. Vigorously washing your hands with warm water and soap for 20 sec is perfect.
Incorrect Ways People Use Hand Sanitizer
There’re many incorrect and ineffective ways hand sanitizer may be used. One isn’t using enough of the hand sanitizer on the hand. Another error is wiping it off before it is dried. Furthermore, according to the CDC, when hands become very greasy or dirty (such as after playing football in the mud) hand sanitizer cannot work as well. In that case, hand washing with soap and water is a good option.
Why You Should Not Forget Hand Washing
Hand washing is yet the perfect way to minimize germs on your hands. This’s particularly true before, during, and after preparing food or before eating. Wash your hands after using the restroom, changing a diaper, touching a pet and cleaning your pet’s waste, handling the garbage, and after blowing, coughing, and sneezing your nose. To appropriately wash your hands:
- Keep rubbing the hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- Wet the hands with water and then apply soap.
- Rinse the hands under water.
- Dry the hands with a = towel, or air dry. Don’t wipe the hands on some clothes.
- Rub the hands together while lathering and scrubbing well. Scrub your hands’ back between your fingers, and under the nails (should be trimmed).