How to use hand sanitizer
As the public and governments grapple with understanding COVID-19 and how to curb its spread, sales of hand sanitizer gel have soared. In Europ and American, some supermarkets have already run out and many markets are rationing purchases to two bottles a customer. So the hand sanitizers are very scarce and we must learn how to select and use hand sanitizers
The alcohol more than 60% are effective
There are a million different kinds of hand sanitizer: gels, foams, alcohol-based, all-natural, ones that smell like pumpkin spice, and more. And it turns out, the type of sanitizer does matter — or rather, the active ingredient and its concentration, says Reynolds.
“You’ll want a hand sanitizer that’s 62–70% ethyl alcohol,” said Tetro. Most of the popular brands out these days have 70%. When it comes to the alcohol-free stuff with ~natural active ingredients~ like aloe vera, the experts say they might kill some germs but not enough. For a sanitizer to be effective, it has to reduce a certain amount of microbes from a surface. “The goal is a four-log (or 10,000-fold) reduction, meaning it reduces about 99.99% of the germs on your hands — and that’s enough to prevent illness,” said Reynolds.
So it doesn’t matter which brand of hand sanitizer you use or whether it’s gel or foam, as long as it has at least 60% alcohol. And you should use enough hand sanitizer so that your hands get wet and it takes about 15 to 20 seconds for them to dry, says Tetro
The hand sanitizer in the video is a cheap but 75% alcohol instant sanitizer gel supplier from China.
The pros and cons of hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer has become a staple in purses, pockets, even on keychains — and for good reason. “Hand sanitizer can be more portable and accessible when people are on the go, which can increase the number of times they can disinfect their hands. This can help reduce the likelihood of transmitting viruses,” says Neha Nanda, medical director of infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship for Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California.
Niket Sonpal, a New York-based internist, gastroenterologist, and adjunct professor at Touro College, agrees that it can often be the most convenient option: “The benefit of hand sanitizer is the ability to combat germs when water and soap are not immediately available.” Sonpal adds that hand sanitizers are effective at neutralizing many microbes, viruses, and bacteria — but not all.
“Hand sanitizers are active against all types of viruses except norovirus, which causes a certain type of diarrhea,” explains Linda Anegawa, a Hawaii-based internist with PlushCare. So while they serve a useful purpose, they’re not a perfect prophylactic. “Sanitizers also don’t protect against some types of bacteria, including one called C. difficile, which causes diarrhea from antibiotic overuse.”
Athanasios Melisiotis, a physician with Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, points out several other potential downsides of hand sanitizer: “Some hand sanitizers can leave a residue that feels slick or uncomfortable for some users,” he tells Allure, noting that hand sanitizer can also sometimes be more expensive than hand soap, which is the preference of each doctor we spoke to. “Hand sanitizers are great in a pinch and are more convenient, but soap and water ultimately are better.”
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Why? Many studies have found that sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95% are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers 16,20. Hand sanitizers without 60-95% alcohol 1) may not work equally well for many types of germs; and 2) merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright.
When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount) and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry
Why? The steps for hand sanitizer use are based on a simplified procedure recommended by the CDC. Instructing people to cover all surfaces of both hands with hand sanitizer has been found to provide similar disinfection effectiveness as providing detailed steps for rubbing-in hand sanitizer.
Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning
Why? Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)-based hand sanitizers are safe when used as directed, 23 but they can cause alcohol poisoning if a person swallows more than a couple of mouthfuls.
From 2011 – 2015, U.S. poison control centers received nearly 85,000 calls about hand sanitizer exposures among children 25. Children may be particularly likely to swallow hand sanitizers that are scented, brightly colored, or attractively packaged. Hand sanitizers should be stored out of the reach of young children and should be used with adult supervision. Child-resistant caps could also help reduce hand sanitizer-related poisonings among young children 24. Older children and adults might purposefully swallow hand sanitizers to become drunk.
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