Time to have lunch at your work place? Don’t have the time to go to the washroom? Do you find yourself using a hand sanitizer instead?
Most of us when sitting in offices, while travelling or just being plain lazy often resort to the use of hand sanitizers. Sanitizers were initially widely used only in hospitals and clinics, where hygiene and an anti-germ condition needs to be prevalent. Today of course sanitizers are easily available at the local chemist and we feel that the need to wash our hands can be done away with!
True, sanitizers are convenient and reliable in some situations like when running water is not available, or when you sneeze somewhere in the middle of a road or when you are physically unable to go and wash your hands regularly. And it is a fact that most sanitizers do kill maximum amount of germs. But it isn’t all a rosy picture.
On a daily basis, when you can wash hands with soap and water, avoiding sanitizers is a better option.
Here is why:
- Not all germs may be killed- Sanitizers with an alcohol concentration of less than 60% will not effectively kill germs, as a result of which you may end up consuming the germs.
- Continous use may not always kill germs - When alcohol content is less than 60% in the sanitizer it will not kill all the bacteria. The bacteria may therefore begin to develop immunity against the sanitizer, reducing the effect of the sanitizer. (Again, idiot may adduce your ‘its’ to bacteria).
- Alcohol dries your skin - With constant use the alcohol in the sanitizer can dry your skin.
- Dead germs need to be removed - The sanitizer may kill the germs but the dead germs still remain on your hands and they need to be washed away with water.
- Not safe for children - Sanitizers must be kept away from children. The alcoholic nature is harmful, if taken orally. Even a small amount licked by the child from his hand can cause dizziness, disorientation, headache, stomachache, slurred speech, etc.
- Sanitizers are flammable - Due to the alcohol content, sanitizers are inflammable. If one chooses to use a cigarette lighter or go near anything that can induce a flame or fire he/she must ensure that their hands are thoroughly dry of the sanitizer.
- Not suitable for the face - Sanitizers must not be used on the face or on any other sensitive skin in our body. In case of a mistaken application to the sensitive skin, it will cause an extreme burning sensation and needs to be washed off immediately
- Not advisable for damaged skin-It is not advised to use a sanitizer where you have damaged or cracked skin. It may enter the cracks and cause further harm to the skin.
So what should you do?
- Wash hands with water also - Do not always use sanitizers to substitute washing with soap and water. Only using a sanitizer will not keep your hands clean for long. Effectively alternate between both for optimum effects.
- Check the alcohol content - Always check (at the back of the bottle) that the alcohol content is between 60-95%. Less than 60% will not kill any bacteria.
- Use only when necessary - Use sanitizer only in situations where running water is not available.
- Alcohol cannot clean grime - Wash hands with soap and warm water when there is visible dirt, blood or any other body fluid. Alcohol is not effective in cleaning grime.
- Before eating - Make sure your hands are completely dry after using the sanitizer, if you use it before eating a meal.
- Do not use very frequently - Avoid using the sanitizer every hour. Have a minimum of 2-3 hours inbetween.
- Wash dead germs off - Wash hands whenever possible after using the sanitizer to get rid of the dead germs.
- Moisturize hands – If you frequently use sanitizers you can use a moisturing cream to reduce the dryness of your hands.
There is no harm in the use of a sanitizer but limit it to only 4-5 times a day and more importantly learn how to use it properly (As described in picture).
Sanitizers are a good way to kill germs. But no sanitizer gives a 100% guarantee.
Ideally, resort to the good old washing of hands with soap and water. It is probably the most reliable.