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How effective are hand sanitizers?

hand sanitizers

Hand sanitizer also called hand antiseptic, handrub, or hand rub, is a liquid, gel, or foam generally used to decrease infectious agents on the hands. Using hand sanitizer reduces microbial counts and kills many harmful germs that could infect workers with the flu and other viruses. 

Washing hands with soap and water can be another way of reducing germs on the hands or skin surface. In most healthcare settings alcohol-based hand sanitizers are preferable to hand washing with soap and water.

Even before the novel virus, hand sanitizers had always been important in the society in keeping microbes off hands and surfaces. Given the recent situation around the world with the outbreak of the coronavirus (covid-19), the increased importance of hand hygiene cannot be ignored. 

Depending on the active ingredient used, hand sanitizers can be classified as one of two types: alcohol-based hand sanitizers or alcohol-free hand sanitizers. Alcohol-based products typically contain between 60 and 95 percent alcohol, usually in the form of ethanol, isopropanol, or propanol. At those concentrations, alcohol immediately denatures proteins, effectively neutralizing certain types of microorganisms. Alcohol-free products are generally based on disinfectants, such as benzalkonium chloride (BAC), or on antimicrobial agents, such as triclosan. The activity of disinfectants and antimicrobial agents is both immediate and persistent.

How effective is hand sanitizers?

There always arise the question of how effective hand sanitizers can be in the fight of the novel coronavirus. The effectiveness of hand sanitizer depends on multiple factors, including the manner in which the product is applied (e.g., quantity used, duration of exposure, frequency of use) and whether the specific infectious agents present on the person’s hands are susceptible to the active ingredient in the product.

In general, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, if rubbed thoroughly over finger and hand surfaces for a period of 30 seconds, followed by complete air-drying, can effectively reduce populations of bacteria, fungi, and some enveloped viruses (e.g., influenza A viruses). Similar effects have been reported for certain alcohol-free formulations, such as SAB (surfactant, allantoin, and BAC) hand sanitizer.1,3,8 Most hand sanitizers, however, are relatively ineffective against bacterial spores, nonenveloped viruses (e.g., norovirus), and encystedparasites (e.g., Giardia). They also do not fully cleanse or sanitize the skin when hands are noticeably soiled prior to application.

With all that in mind, hand sanitizers can be considered a first line of defense in the fight against microbes and germs. However, washing hands with soap also goes a long way to support the fight. Quality hand sanitizer brands such as Dettol hand sanitizer, purell hand sanitizer and sterillium hand sanitizer are for sale online at handdispenser.com.

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