As the American public grew weary about the spread of illnesses amongst children and adults, hand sanitizers became a constant presence in schools, airports, retail stores, and at the office. But what do hand sanitizers really do to protect us against germs?
Andrew Pekosz from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health explains the effectiveness of the instant sanitizing gels and creams as follows:
“The active ingredient in hand sanitizer -- usually alcohol -- disrupts the coating of virus and bacteria particles. By damaging the outside of the particle, the virus becomes deactivated”
This does not mean that your hands are getting the thorough cleaning needed to eliminate all bacteria. If any part of your hand is missed when applying, the bacteria is still active. Your best efforts to eliminate bacteria are washing your hands thoroughly for about 15 seconds with soap and water.
Some tips on using hand sanitizer most effectively are:
1. Apply hand sanitizer when washing your hands with soap and water is not readily available.
2. Cover the entire surface of the hand and allow for it to dry completely.
3. The regular use of hand sanitizer has been proven effective, three to five times a day, or more if you are sneezing and/or coughing.
4. Hand sanitizers do not protect you against bacteria on objects you touch after applying it. A blockade is not created on your hand but instead it deactivates what already exists and should be reapplied again.
5. The Center for Disease Control recommends that hand sanitizers with at least 60%-95% alcohol are your best options for fighting the flu.
The use of hand sanitizers, beyond its effectiveness as a germ fighter, also gives the user confidence in their health and well being, that they are being proactive in a fight against germs. Not just as a mental assuage or reminder, the use of hand sanitizers help to deactivate bacteria and keep your hands clean.
As you head for the deals flooding the malls and shopping centers this holiday season take preventative steps in keeping you, your family, and fellow shoppers healthy and happy.