When the entire world is fighting against the lethal coronavirus, both CDC and WHO guides us that the only way to combat this infection is by practising good hand hygiene habits. This usually involves the age-old technique of washing hands with soap and water but if the latter isn’t available, the next best option to stop the virus from spreading is by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% of alcohol.
What Is A Hand Sanitizer?
A Hand Sanitizer is a water-less disinfectant that is available in the form of liquid, gel or foam and is extensively used to diminish or kill microbes present on the hands. Although nowadays there have been different varieties of hand sanitizers, healthcare organisations chiefly prefer the ones made with alcohol since they are better tolerated and much more effective in removing microbes from the hand.
Purpose Of Alcohol In A Sanitizer
Alcohol has been used in the form of an effective antiseptic since the year 1363. Noted as a good germ killer, alcohol can coagulate the germ proteins. Then again, a solution of 70% alcohol, that is, rubbing alcohol, is far more effective antiseptic than 100 % alcohol. Since the 1980’s sanitizers formulated with rubbing alcohol is quite common in the western nations. The alcohol-based version is also included in the List of Essential Medicines of the World Health Organization, as one of the safest and most effective components needed in a health care system.
Types Of Hand Sanitizers
Depending upon the active ingredients being used, hand sanitizers can be segregated as one of the two types: Alcohol-based and Alcohol-free.
Hand sanitizers made using alcohol typically contain between 60 and 95 percent of alcohol, usually in the form of isopropanol, ethanol, or n-propanol. The presence of alcohol in the given concentration immediately denatures proteins of the microbes, and thus effectively neutralizing certain types of microorganisms.
Whereas the alcohol-free alternatives are usually based on disinfectants, such as benzalkonium chloride (BAC), or antimicrobial agents, such as triclosan. The action of disinfectants and antimicrobial agents is both immediate and persistent.
Nowadays, various types of hand sanitizers are being manufactured that not only contains the above-mentioned active ingredients but also contain emollients (e.g., glycerine or aloe vera gel) that soothe and moisturise the skin, thickening agents, and essential oils to enhance the fragrance of the product. According to the CDC, one must keep in mind the key to making an effective, germ-busting hand sanitizer is to maintain the proportion of alcohol to aloe vera as 2:1. This keeps the alcohol content around 60 percent which is the minimum amount needed to kill most germs.
How To Use Hand Sanitizer?
Spray or apply the sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
Rub both the palms together until the entire hand gets covered with the sanitizer.
Continue rubbing for 30 to 60 seconds or until the hands are dry.
What Germs Can A Hand Sanitizer Protect From?
Although a hand sanitizer cannot work well if the hands are dirty or greasy, maintaining the recommended concentration of rubbing alcohol can make it extremely effective against a wide range of germs and disease-causing pathogens and is also found effective against the ongoing deadly SARS-COV-2 virus.
That being said, CDC also mentions that hand sanitizers are not always effective in case of certain chemicals and they cannot kill pathogens like Cryptosporidium, Clostridium difficile and Norovirus.
Advantages Of Hand Sanitizer
Sanitation: The foremost benefit of hand sanitizer is that it disinfects hands and is effective in eliminating at least 99% of germs.
Portability: In situations of unavailability of water, these disinfectants are saviours while on the go since being available in pocket-sized bottles they can be carried anywhere and everywhere.
Soothing And Moisturising: This might sound surprising, but a variety of sanitizers nowadays contain additives like aloe vera gel, essential oils that are actually good for the skin and moisturise and hydrate the skin effectively.
Duration: Sanitizers are less time consuming since they act quickly on the hands to kill the pathogens.
Reduces Diseases: Being able to kill a wide range of germs, it prevents different types of gastrointestinal troubles and other infections due to bacteria and viruses.
FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR DR GOVIND SHUKLA, NUTRITION EXPERT
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Govind Shukla, Specializes in Pharmacology, Toxicology, Nutraceuticals & Herbal Drugs has published More than 100 research papers in National & International Journals. He is also a reviewer of International Journal of Pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, Chief editor of IJPNR Journal & Freelance Medical Writer for Different publication Groups including Lambert Academic Publishing Saarbrucken, Germany.