If you’re wondering why health experts are so adamant in promoting hand hygiene — it’s primarily because four out of five disease-causing germs are transmitted and spread through hands. Washing with soap and water is the best way to keep your hands clean, but as sinks are not portable and easily accessible, products like a hand sanitizer can be a great alternative.
Are Hand Sanitizers Really Effective?
To a certain extent, a hand sanitizer can kill pathogens present in your hands. However, experts are quick to clarify that such a product is not a complete replacement of the traditional hand-washing method. You should also look for one that has at least 60% alcohol — the main ingredient that has a long history of fighting germs and harmful microorganisms.
How Much Should You Use?
Before using a sanitizer, it is a must to carefully read the instructions stated on the label. From there, you will know how much of the product should be applied on your skin —typically, you only need a dime-size portion of the sanitizer.
Apart from the proper amount, you should also be mindful of the proper technique. Simply apply the sanitizer in one of your palms, then gently and thoroughly rub it on both of your hands, in between fingers, and around fingertips. For the sanitizer to be fully effective, it should be completely absorbed by the skin (meaning, you shouldn’t wipe it off until it has dried out).
When Are Hand Sanitizers Not Recommended?
While a hand sanitizer can be really helpful in keeping your hands clean, experts claim that you shouldn’t use it too frequently. Not only can it kill even the good bacteria present in our skin (scientifically called “hand microbiome”) — it can also cause our skin to dry due to its high alcohol content.
Below we’ve listed some situations when you might have been overusing this product:
You have easy access to soap and water. As mentioned, washing with soap and water is still the best way to kill germs in your hands. Whenever you have access to these things, grab the opportunity to do so instead of just relying on a sanitizer.
Your hands have too much dirt. When your hands are too dirty, a sanitizer will be less effective in killing pathogens. Plus, products like this aren’t designed to clean off dirt, soil, and other debris in your hands.
You have touched raw meat. After touching raw meat, your hands become greasy — and sanitizers don’t really work well during this situation. It is best to access soap and water to wash your hands.
You have handled chemicals. If you have handled chemicals like pesticides, you shouldn’t use sanitizers to get rid of contaminants. The best solution is to wash your hands with water thoroughly.
You’re next to someone who has just sneezed. When someone near you sneezes, the chances are the droplets he or she emitted will be transferred to you once you’ve inhaled them. So it’s not really helpful to sanitize your hands when such a situation happens.
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