When and how to use hand sanitizer
How to wash your hands correctly? Due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the demand for hand sanitizer is high. But sadly many people don't know how to use a hand sanitizer properly. Go through this article and learn when and how to use a hand sanitizer effectively to stay safe and free from germs. Also, get to know when not to use a hand sanitizer and the benefits and the risks of using a hand sanitizer.
What is a hand sanitizer?Hand sanitizer is a gel, a liquid or foam which generally reduces or kills the germs or any other infectious agents present on the hands. It is available in two types- alcohol-based and non-alcohol based. But out of these two, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are more preferred because it is highly effective in killing a variety of microorganisms present in the hands. Alcohol contains antiseptic properties and hence the hand sanitizer which contains 60-90% of alcohol is preferred more for hand washing at the health care centres in most of the situations. As alcohol is flammable, high care must be given while using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. But this type of hand sanitizer is recommended to use only when soap and water are not available. It is listed on the World Health Organization's (WHO) list of essential medicines and is also used predominantly in hospitals and health care centres as an alternative to antiseptic soaps.
Non-alcohol based hand sanitizers are less effective and have no recommendations. It can be used for hand-washing outside the health care setting. Alcohol-free hand sanitizer will contain agents other than alcohol to kill the microorganisms. But this type of alcohol-free hand sanitizer solution gets contaminated easily and may result in less effectiveness or cause any other infection because of the contaminating organisms present in the solution.
When to use a hand sanitizer?Germs are present everywhere. We more commonly use our hands for daily activities which in turn get dirty often. So, for hand hygiene, everyone must wash the hands regularly using soap and water to kill the chemical and microbes present in the hand. But what if soap and water are not present? So, at that situation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone to clean the hands using a hand sanitizer which contains at least 60% of alcohol to reduce the germs in the hand.
In general, soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers in reducing certain kind of germs. But alcohol-based hand sanitizer when used properly can reduce the number of microbes or inactivate the germs in hands. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers work effectively against certain types of infectious agents on slightly soiled or less greasy hands. Most importantly, it works well in clinical settings where the hands are more often used in contact with the germs. For example, you can use it after visiting a patient from a hospital, after using your friend's laptop, after wearing your shoes, etc.
When not to use a hand sanitizer?Do not use a hand sanitizer if your hands are visibly greasy or dirty. It is highly recommended not to use a hand sanitizer before eating food, after touching garbage, after coughing or sneezing, after touching an animal, animal cages, animal food or animal waste, after gardening, after camping, playing outdoors and after using the bathroom. In such situations, try to wash the hands using soap and water because alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill all types of germs. Also, remember that hand sanitizers may not remove pesticides, harmful chemical and heavy metals on hands.
Note: Do not apply the hand sanitizer on your face. Swallowing the alcohol-based hand sanitizer may lead to alcohol poisoning. Keep the hand sanitizers out of reach from young children.
How to use a hand sanitizer?
How to wash the hands using soap and water?Hand washing is different from using hand sanitizer. Washing the hands using soap and water is one of the best methods to reduce and kill the germs. Hand sanitizers will help to protect us from germs but hand washing with soap and water is always highly preferred because it protects a person from the novel coronavirus, parasites, norovirus and as well as from other illness like seasonal flu, viral infections and the common cold. Probably many of us even don't know how to wash the hands properly using soap and water. Mentioned below are the instructions listed by CDC on how to wash the hands effectively
Benefits of hand sanitizer
Disadvantages of hand sanitizer
Bottom lineUsing hand sanitizer periodically will reduce the chance of getting sick. But use the hand sanitizer only when soap and water are not available. It is advisable to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers that are prepared as per guidelines listed by WHO. Using hand sanitizer is really a complementary habit because it exposes us only to fewer germs and positively keeps a person at a distance from deadly diseases. Keeping the hand sanitizers for the usage of people at public places, schools, offices, trade shows, work desk, meeting halls, grand opening, community events, etc will prevent the germs from spreading and reduce the risk of infection.
As recommended by the health authorities and CDC, wash the hands whenever possible to keep your hands free from germs and disease-causing virus and bacteria. Do not overuse hand sanitizers, use it at a minimal rate based on your activity.
Stay safe and healthy!
Keeping the germs away from the hands is an essential action as we touch our face and other places with hands only. In such cases, soap water or sanitizers are the only solutions and one has to be very alert and cautious in maintaining this cleaning activity for getting rid of the germs from the hands. One thing which is very important in this context is that one may have to wash the hands multiple times also. For example, the family person, who goes out and brings some provision and vegetables and then keeps all the things at a stipulated corner for cleaning and arranging at a later time, has to wash his hands again thoroughly. This is a very important action and may look redundant and repetitive but it is not. It is required to get rid of the germs which again has come to the hands while arranging and cleaning the material brought from outside. It is also advisable to do these things single-handedly as more people doing it would be riskier. This is only one example but while working in the house we would encounter many such situations like taking milk from the milkman or receiving a package from the courier or delivery boy. A friend or relative visiting a household is to be discouraged to do so.