Hand Sanitizer With Alcohol: Facts To Know

Hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer

Right now, with the corona pandemic going on everyone knows about hand sanitizers. Maybe this is the best method of battling with the killer infection. Apart from the corona virus other infection are also escalating and are considered serious health problem worldwide. Hands are the major route for transmitting microbes and infections in human. Personal as well as hand hygiene is important to prevent these infectious diseases.

The significance of cleanliness is generally perceived and proof based. It is notable that hand cleanliness is essential to limit contagious diseases. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other clinical bodies, hand cleanliness is the most significant measure in the counteraction of contaminations. A few investigations have indicated the significance of legitimate hand cleanliness in lessening the frequency of hospital or community-based diseases.

How to maintain hand hygiene?

At present, washing hands with appropriate soap followed by applying hand antiseptics are two important hand hygiene methods followed. Hand sanitizers with alcohol significantly increase the chance of maintaining the hands clean and aseptic. Studies have shown that

after hand washing with soap, as many as 80% of individuals retain some bacteria on their hands. Repeated hand washing with soap removes body’s own fatty acids from the skin and makes it dry. This may result in cracked skin which is an entry portal for bacteria and viruses. Hand sanitizers can overcome the limitations of plain hand washing and are effective against all those micro-organisms. In addition, hand sanitizers with alcohol improve skin condition due to the addition of emollients in it.

What are the types of sanitizers available?

There are many hand sanitizers are available in the market which vary in effectiveness. Roughly these can be grouped into two: Hand sanitizers with alcohol and sanitizers without alcohol.

Hand sanitizers with alcohol

Alcohol is the main active ingredient in alcohol-based hand sanitizer which exerts antimicrobial activity by causing protein denaturation, disruption of tissue membranes, and dissolution of several lipids. Alcohol has variable effectiveness in different concentrations, propanol and ethanol also differ accordingly.

Hand sanitizers without alcohol

Alcohol-free hand sanitizers use with the surfactant benzalkonium chloride (BK) as an active antibacterial. This chemical can break the cell membranes of the bacteria. It is also active at low concentrations and this ingredient is not volatile like alcohol. Hence it is expected to remain on the skin for longer time. This formulation acts against viruses as well.

Coriander, Lime, and Neem are the active ingredients responsible for antimicrobial activity in various herbal hand sanitizer.

These alcohol-free hand sanitizers are non-flammable and disinfect and/or sanitize surfaces rapidly. Also, these formulations quickly dry after application. In addition, these hand sanitizers may be topically applied to hands, face and other surfaces of the body to disinfect and sanitize the same.

Which is an effective sanitizer?

Some products may market for their effectiveness without proper standardization. Antimicrobial property of hand sanitizers is decided on the effectiveness in reducing bacterial counts on hands. In fact, the public may be carried away by a label claim of reducing “germs and harmful bacteria” by 99%. Actually, all these products may not be so. Hence, there should a verification of these fake claims by the regulatory authorities and enforcement of good-quality measures. All alcohol-based hand sanitizers penetrate the skin creases and nail folds and act on the organisms. Some products contain the Mecetronium compound which contributes to residual effect up to 3–5 h.

How hand sanitizer differs from disinfectants?

There is difference between various disinfectants and hand sanitizers. Disinfectants are chemical agents which act immediately and for longer time. Due to sustained activity these agents destroy micro-organisms to maximum level. They are usually used in hospital and medical set ups. Disinfectant use a stronger form of alcohol called propanol.

   Hand sanitizers, on the other hand reduce the number of micro-organisms to a safe level. as compared to disinfectants. Ethanol is the active product in sanitizers which can achieve bacterial reduction on contact.

Is it bad to use hand sanitizer?

Ethanol in hand sanitizing gel is widely used for hand hygiene in the community. Also, these products are more commonly used in hospital setup. As these settings involve meticulous hand hygiene, healthcare workers are exposed to the side effects of hand sanitizers. Ethanol is considered an effective substance against a large spectrum of microorganisms which can stay on the skin for longer time. Health care professionals may apply alcohol-based hand sanitizers more than 50 times a day prior to and just following each patient.

  • Hand sanitizers contain alcohol in higher concentrations than available common alcoholic drinks.
  • Ethyl alcohol, the active ingredient in hand sanitizers, is responsible for the adverse effects seen at times. Other ingredients in sanitizers like glycerine, propylene glycol, tocopherol acetate, isopropyl myristate, and aminomethyl propanol are inactive and generally are recognized as safe by the FDA.
  • Small kids may accidentally consume these hand sanitizers in view of their engaging fragrances. Consumption of these powerful alcohol derivatives may cause serious issues as young children don’t have much glycogen in their liver.
  • The most widely recognized sort of side effects of both alcohol and non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a visual disturbance, conjunctivitis, oral bothering, hack, and stomach pain. Uncommon and serious side effects are comma, seizure, hypoglycemia, metabolic acidosis, and respiratory distress.

Which hand sanitizer is best?

Hand sanitizers are excellent for reducing infection and community spread of organisms. They are alternative to achieve asepsis in hospital-based settings. However, choosing the best among the series of products is tough. Some of the studies have found out alcohol-based formulation to act against many bacteria, viruses and fungi. These results suggest that expanded use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers might reduce the transmission pathogens in the public and hospitals. 

Does hand sanitizer really work?

Hand hygiene is acknowledged as the single most important measure to prevent hospital-based infection as well. Similarly, among the public hand hygiene is the most important element in helping prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Different hand sanitizers reduce the burden of bacterial hand contamination in a community setting. Hence use of hand sanitizers with alcohol is highly recommended.

Hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer

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