During a fatal pandemic, handwashing with soap and water is highly recommended as a precaution for safety; numerous studies have suggested this is the best mode of hand hygiene.
But what would you do if soap and water are inaccessible to you?
An evolved strain of a respiratory virus has surfaced during the latter end of 2019 which then developed into a pandemic towards the following year – this is referred to as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), or as you may have more commonly recognized as COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), have promoted good hand hygiene - preferably handwashing - as the best way to protect yourself - and your loved ones - from the deadly virus.
Why the sudden surge in popularity of hand sanitizers?
However, it can be sometimes bothersome to wash with soap and water multiple times in a day, particularly when you’re outside - it can be difficult to locate a public restroom with soap and clean water, even more so when having to wait in line for public restrooms just so you could properly wash your hands.
Demand for hand sanitizers had been out of hand since the pandemic surfaced
Thus, alcohol hand sanitizers have become a convenient, portable, and typical alternative to handwashing. In this regard, the demand for hand sanitizers rose significantly by 330% in the United States alone.
Major suppliers have struggled to attain the exceedingly high demand for hand sanitizers in Singapore upon the first two weeks of reaching the country. There were even multiple reports of people hoarding hand sanitizers; Supermarket chains claimed to be out of stock within an hour and needed to apply extra measures to keep up with the spike in demand.
How Would Using A Hand Sanitizer Be Beneficial For You?
Select the right alcohol content
Presently, the CDC strongly advised the use of alcohol hand sanitizers to avoid contracting germs or spreading them to other people.
Strong arguments against non-alcohol sanitizers indicate ineffectiveness against germs; along these lines, sanitizers with low alcohol content are not as potent against germs unlike others with higher alcohol content.
Hand sanitizers with low alcohol content aren't any better than not having any hand sanitizer at all. Ideally, you should select hand sanitizers with an alcohol content that falls within the range of 60-95%.
Hand sanitizers are not as drying as soap and water
Moreover, there is ample support for the claim that recurrent handwashing leads to dryness and in some cases, cracking of the skin.
Fortunately for you, most hand sanitizer gel formulas are incorporated with moisturizing ingredients as an added measure of protecting the skin barrier against the drying effects of alcohol and frequent exposure to water. These are also being used in the healthcare industry - using hand sanitizer gels was cited to be preferred among nurses and doctors because of this moisturizing aspect.
Although these are still not as effective as handwashing as some formulas have been found to not kill germs or viruses entirely but to weaken them. Nevertheless, countless studies have indicated the effectiveness of using hand sanitizers against a wide array of disease-causing viruses - so long as these are used properly.
What Is The Proper Way To Use Hand Sanitizers?
Wash your hands regularly throughout the day, especially for the following scenarios: using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, before eating, and after encountering potentially contaminated areas. This should be done for at least 30-60 seconds when using hand sanitizers. Continue to do so until your hands are completely dry.
Hand sanitizers may not work as fine on grime
Make sure your hands are dry before applying; it is not as useful when applied on greasy hands or if being used to remove hazardous chemicals from the skin. Hand sanitizers are not designed to be used in removing dirt nor harsher solutions. Alternatively, it is suggested that you wash with soap and water first; apply hand sanitizer afterward if you still prefer it.
Always check the label!
Another thing to consider is given the varying levels of alcohol content of these products, different manufacturers indicate different instructions as well. Instructions for the duration of application, as well as standard amounts - if these are specified on the bottle - should be followed to ensure that its intended effects take place.
Don’t miss a spot!
There is an inconclusive debate on the enhanced effectiveness of alcohol hand sanitizers when used at an amount that is larger than what is specified on the bottle. However, studies pointed out the fact that lower amounts of hand sanitizers often contributed to poor coverage, prompting WHO to reiterate that “all surfaces of the hand” must be covered in hand sanitizer.
Good Hand Hygiene Is The Key
You should remember that alcohol hand sanitizers are not a direct substitute for handwashing with soap and clean water, but it is still ideal to sustain the habit of using it as a means of maintaining good hand hygiene.
If you’re still worried about contracting unwanted germs and unintentionally transmitting the COVID-19 virus, be sure you keep these in mind - be a helping hand in promoting a healthier and safer space for you, your loved ones, and your community.