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Hand Sanitizers and Protection from the Flu

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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.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

How come no one does the story about the new sanitizers on the market which are alcohol-free? There are new products that kill 3 times the germs, work up to 30 minutes, and they are safer to use than alcohol. This one is my favorite: http://www.cleanphirst.com/store/alcohol_free_foam_hand_sanitizer.asp

November 30, 2009 - 10:29am

The mis-guided focus on promoting alcohol-based sanitizers, as opposed to non-alcohol alternatives illustrates an alarming lack of common sense among supposedly educated people. Or it illustrates how major brands (e.g. Purell) can prove so influential in the course of lobbying government agencies to make sure their message is subliminal within federal proclamations.

At least one maker of non-alcohol hand sanitizer products has been credited with bringing the education and awareness of alternative products directly to the CDC. In September, after 15 years of making barely a mention of the dangers of alcohol, CDC acknowledged that schools (and others) have come to their own conclusions and determined that its really not such a good idea to rub alcohol into our skin, when there are other, safer ingredients that can kill germs, without killing skin cells and industrial floor wax--and without intoxicating our children.
There are a growing number of non-alcohol hand sanitizer brands..one that has that has taken the high road--in effort to educate people, is a product called Soapopular..(www.SoapyUSA.com)..(their website contains some solid information)...a good blog on the topic is www.handhygienefacts.blogspot.com

November 28, 2009 - 9:57am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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