Here’s how to use hand sanitizers to protect yourself against coronavirus and other infections

  • Keeping your hands clean is a big part of disease prevention and control.

  • Hand sanitizers come in handy among the different options to disinfect your hands.

  • Following the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines on the use of sanitizers can help you reap the most benefits.
CDC recommends hand washing with soap and water as a more reliable process than using hand sanitizers to get your hands clean. However, when washing your hands with soap and water is not a feasible option, hand sanitizers are a good alternative. Read on to know to what extent you can depend on hand sanitizers and how to get the best use out of them.

When to use hand sanitizers

When soap and water are not available or not a viable option, you may choose to opt for hand sanitizers to disinfect your hands. Using a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol can prevent you and others around you from getting sick. Based on a number of studies, CDC has developed a set of guidelines to get the best out of hand sanitizers.

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What to know before using hand sanitizers

  • Alcohol-based sanitizers can reduce the number of microbes on hands quickly, but they cannot eliminate all types of germs.
  • Handwashing with soap and water is the only dependable option when it comes to disinfecting the hands of certain types of germs like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile.
  • Hand sanitizers can actually put you at more risk with regard to some infections like norovirus by way of bacterial resistance. Hand sanitizers are less effective in fighting the flu causing germs.
  • Alcohol-based sanitizers may inactivate several types of microbes effectively when used in the right way.
  • Use an adequate volume of sanitizer and do not wipe it off before it dries to get the best out of it.
  • Hand sanitizers cannot work effectively when the hands are soiled or greased heavily. Under such circumstances, go for a thorough hand wash with soap and water.
  • Hand sanitizers cannot inactivate or remove many types of chemicals. If you have touched harmful chemicals, wash your hands with soap and water instead of using hand sanitizers.
  • When choosing soap and water for handwashing is not a feasible option, always depend on sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers without 60-95% alcohol might not be effective with all kinds of germs. They may merely reduce the number of germs than kill them altogether.
  • While using hand sanitizer, apply it to the palm of one hand and rub it all over the complete surface of both the hands until the hands are dry.
  • If you swallow hand sanitizer voluntarily or involuntarily, you might succumb to alcohol poisoning. In many cases, children have been found to swallow sanitizers that are attractively packed, scented or brightly coloured. Keep the hand sanitizers out of the reach of children and let them use it under adult supervision.
  • Whenever possible, think of placing a child-resistant cap on the hand sanitizer containers. Be warned that some older children and adults might land on the idea of swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers to become intoxicated. Please take adequate precautions to prevent alcohol poisoning by digestion.
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