What Is Hand Sanitizer, And Why Should You Care?

  • Published Date : Mar 2020

Hand sanitizers are recommended to be useful when you don't have access to soap and water.

With the spread of the novel coronavirus, hand sanitizer sales began to grow, around the globe. By the second week of March, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak to a global emergency. Health officials everywhere recommended that people should wash their hands often with soap and handwash.

The first US COVID-19 case was found on January 2020. According to a research from Nielsen, Hand sanitizers sales in the US witnessed 73% surge from Jan. 20 to Feb.22.

The world has witnessed a shortage of hand sanitizers with compare to its demand. As a result, prominent global players such as LVMH, BASF and chemistry students at different universities are coming up with their own fresh supplies.

Most health officials say that soap and water is the best way to keep your hands protected from virus, when you are not near a sink, hand sanitizers are the best preferable option, experts suggest. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “to get the best result use a product that contains at least 60% alcohol, rub all over the hand surface, until dry. Although there are some sanitizers available in the market which does not contain alcohol, it is the main ingredient that help kill viruses or germs. That’s the reason alcohol is known as very effective disinfectant that is safe to put on your skin.

In case you don’t have access to hand sanitizer, WHO offers recommends two simple methods for making your own hand-sanitizing liquids. One of these methods uses 80% ethanol, and other 75% isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol. Both of these solutions contain a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to prevent germs from growing and glycerol to help moisturize your skin.

While most sanitizers contain either isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol, alcohol-free sanitizers are also up for sale. Such sanitizers usually contain antimicrobial compounds like benzalkonium chloride to give protection against bacteria. Meanwhile, alcohol-free products aren’t recommended by CDC for fighting the COVID-19, because it isn’t yet clear that such products can be used successfully against virus.

So, should you keep checking while purchasing a hand sanitizer? According to an expert in behavioral science at the University of Reading, panic buying allows people to regain a feeling of control. But when people ae scared and not in senses, they often don’t make informed decisions. “It’s key to listen to professionals about the most effective decisions that can take at any point.” The best option still remains to wash your hands as frequently as possible.

The expert further emphasizes on, soap and water are the best option hand safety and hygiene. Soap molecules not only disrupt noncovalent interactions that holds viruses and bacterial walls together but can also surround and help detach microbes from the skin. Hand sanitizers can’t help in removing microbes from the skin and aren’t effective in killing all the germs. For instance, noroviruses don’t have a lipid membrane coating that can be broken up by alcohol, and the spores of Clostridium difficile have a tough coating of keratin that can protect them for years. Also, alcohol doesn’t always work on dirty or greasy hands. Although, “Alcohol based products work, but nothing beats soap.

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