Hand Sanitizers: 7 Commonly Asked Questions

The eruption of COVID-19 in our daily lives, has forced many companies to start producing hand sanitizer.  We have been no exception to the rule.  We find ourselves having to adapt, adopt to the new normal.  In this blog, we tell you straight up exactly what we know about hand sanitizers; you can come up with your own conclusion, but the are necessary in our daily lives for the moment.

Exactly how do hand sanitizers work?

They are hydroalcoholic gels that have bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal properties (killing bacteria, viruses and other fungi) without having any cleaning effect. In other words, the bacteria die, preventing them from spreading to other people, but they stay on your hands. Hydroalcoholic solutions therefore do not replace hand washing. Moreover, these must be clean and dry before using this gel, as specified by the WHO.

What is less known is the long-term effects of these gels? You should know that the bacteria contained on our palms are not all bad and, some of them allow us to fight the others, worse, in particular the strains more resistant to antibiotics. The act of sanitizing everything while wanting to protect ourselves, we also lose our best immune defense.

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  1. THE USE OF A DISINFECTANT GEL REPLACES HAND WASHING WITH SOAP AND WATER

Answer: false. Many people mistakenly believe that using a disinfectant gel reduces the importance of washing hands with soap and water. Nothing is more wrong! Gels are not cleaners; they do not allow to get rid of dirt, apparent or not. Only effective hand washing ensures thorough cleaning. We should see the use of a disinfectant gel as a supplement to hand washing, which is part of a global approach to hygiene and infection prevention. That said, sometimes, in the absence of water and soap, the use of disinfectant gels can be beneficial.

  1. ALL ANTISEPTIC GELS ELIMINATE 99% OF GERMS.

Answer: false. The effectiveness of disinfectant gels may differ depending on the product. However, it is fair to say that many can kill more than 99% of the microbes that can cause common respiratory infections, such as colds and flu. The use of antiseptic gels prevents hand contamination, but does not inevitably prevent viral or bacterial infections occurring in other ways.

  1. THE HIGHER THE ALCOHOL RATE, THE MORE EFFECTIVE THE DISINFECTANT GELS.

Answer: true and false. To exercise their disinfecting action, disinfectant gels must be composed of water and alcohol (ethyl or isopropyl), at a certain concentration (between 60 and 80%). At lower or higher concentrations, the antiseptic activity is reduced. Read the manufacturer’s label carefully for the alcohol content of the product.

  1. DISINFECTANT GELS CAUSE THE APPEARANCE OF SUPERBACTERIA.

Answer: false. As mentioned earlier, the active ingredient in disinfectant gels is alcohol. This has the advantage of acting and evaporating quickly. Once evaporated, it leaves no residue. No scientific data available to date suggests that the use of alcohol-based gels is likely to make certain germs resistant to their action.

  1. DISINFECTANT GELS DRY HANDS MORE COMPARABLY WITH SOAP.

Answer: true and false. Because of the alcohol they contain, disinfectant gels dry the skin. This is why manufacturers sometimes incorporate an emollient or moisturizer into these products. In addition, certain added ingredients, perfumes for example, can irritate the skin. It should be noted that repeated hand washing with soap and water can also be drying or irritating. These effects depend of course, in part, on the soap used.

  1. RISKS OF POISONING ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OF ANTISEPTIC GELS.

Answer: true. Numerous cases of poisoning related to the use of disinfectant gels are reported every year.  Sometimes these cases occur as a result of accidental ingestion, especially in babies and young children. This is partly explained by the ease of access to these products and their sometimes attractive odor. Ingestion of antiseptic gels may also be intentional, due to the alcohol they contain. There is therefore a real risk of alcoholic intoxication, voluntary or not.

  1. WIPING OR WASHING HANDS AFTER USING A DISINFECTANT GEL MAKES IT INEFFECTIVE.

Answer: true. After applying a disinfectant gel, it is important not to rinse or wash your hands or to wipe them with a towel, as this may reduce the effectiveness of the product. Rather, rub your hands against each other long enough for them to dry out (the alcohol will evaporate). In addition, do not have your hands wet when disinfecting, as this may compromise the optimal action of the product.

 

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