As responsible citizens of the country and an essential part of the society we move, it becomes our responsibility to take measures that eventually benefit our community. People have become conscious of their health, and not only are these decisions consciously made but also responsibly made so that it brings no harm. We have started switching to the use of products that are more environment friendly, organic, and clean options. Recently, one more thing that has become our social responsibility is washing our hands and maintaining good hygiene habits.
One cannot always expect to have water and soap around them to wash their hands, and in a situation like this, there is only one product that has been in the market for a while now but has gained immense popularity in recent times, hand sanitizers. Also, there is a big difference between washing hands vs. sanitizing hands. Washing your hands would clean any germs that are present on the surface of your hand. Sanitizing hands would kill these germs, and why, you may ask? It’s because sanitizers contain alcohol in them. The amount of alcohol in a hand sanitizer varies from a minimum of 60% and above.
Until the recent year, using hand sanitizers was not even a requirement and was just an added product launched to the market to gain more profitability. Thanks to the world’s pandemic, we humans have realized that maintaining hygiene at a personal level is very important. We now believe that we are protected from the contact of germs since we always carry the immunity booster hand sanitizer wherever we go and make sure we constantly keep sanitizing our hands.
There are broadly two types of hand sanitizers known to us, and this classification of hand sanitizer mainly depends upon the active ingredient of the sanitizer. Two different types of sanitizers are:
- Alcohol-based sanitizer: The range of alcohol in alcohol-based sanitizers mostly range from 60% minimum to 95%, which can be in the form of propanol, isopropanol, and ethanol. At these levels of alcohol, the microorganisms are killed automatically.
- Alcohol-free sanitizers: These types are primarily based on disinfectants.
The effect of both alcohol-based and non-alcohol based is almost immediate. Some companies also make it a point to add in some quantity of glycerin which soothes the skin and keeps it moisturized, along with making the sanitizer fragrant and thick.
Even though we are well aware of the expected benefits of using a hand sanitizer, let us discuss them a lot in detail:
- They ensure cleanliness and hygiene: going out in public, even for the smallest work, is more like a nightmare today. Each of us makes it a point to carry some form of sanitizer to sanitize our hands and avoid making any contacts constantly. The places we visit also have sanitizers placed so prominently that you are reminded to sanitize your hands.
- One company that has taken up the initiative and introduced a hand sanitizer for our protection is No Scars. The company has launched No Scars hand sanitizer, and this immunity-boosting hand sanitizer contains almost 70% isopropyl, killing the germs effectively and keeping your hands clean.
- Chances of any illness are reduced: let’s put this simple and straight. We all know that the entrance of germs causes all illnesses into our bodies. Now, we also know that the most common way germs enter our body is through our hands. This, in turn, means having clear and well-sanitized hands will stop this unwanted entry of germs into our body, whereas dirty and unsanitized hands, which could have picked up germs, could be a reason for our illness.
- Convenience: washing hands should be practice for us rather than an obligation. We need to know that keeping our hands clean will protect us from not only any illness but also our community by not spreading. As we already know, it is practically impossible to have water and soap everywhere we go, and something like a hand sanitizer works effectively and is very convenient to carry. They come in several sizes, making your choice easier.
- Softer hands: now, this point may be new for many people. Washing hands not only cleans your hands but also rips away moisture levels, thanks to the soaps we commonly use. The companies make sure some natural softener is added to the hand sanitizer so that the high alcohol levels don’t just rip away the moisture and make your hands dry.
- Safety for others: germs usually would like to gather at a particular spot, and these spots and other factors make it a breeding spot for several other microbes. Under no circumstance does this signify that one gets scared of moving out. Instead, all you need to do is carry your well-known No Scarshand sanitizer and make any place safe for you and others.
Now that we know the benefits of always having your hand sanitizer, it is essential to understand when and how to use it. Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is most appropriate in the undermentioned situations:
- Before visiting a known family member, friend, or someone sick in the nursing home or hospital
- Before entering a mall or restaurant
- Before and after you are enjoying your meals.
- Before and after touching and feeding any animal
- Changing kids or adult diapers
- Using the toilet
- Before treating a wound and then after finishing
- Basic hygiene- nose, coughing, sneezing
It should always be a priority to look for actual water and soap for washing away any dirt from your hands, but if you don’t find one, a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol is a must.
How should a sanitizer be used to make the most of it?
Using an alcohol-based sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content should be done with caution when it comes to kids using it. Younger kids could swallow the sanitizer, thereby causing harm. Not only at home but a close should be on kids in schools and other facilities.
Remember to put enough alcohol rub sanitizer on your hand just so that all your hand is covered with it. Also, make it a point to continue to rub your hands until they are fully dry.
Effectiveness of the hand sanitizer
The overall effectiveness of your sanitizer depends upon what product you use and how it is applied. Another important thing on which the effectiveness of hand sanitizer depends is how the infectious agents present on your hand react with the ingredients of the sanitizer. As a rule, if the alcohol-based sanitizer is rubbed adequately on hands, including fingers, and then dried completely, it kills almost 99% of all types of fungus, bacteria, and viruses.
Irrespective of the effectiveness of a hand sanitizer, the use of sanitizer, alcohol bases or not, would eventually stop any further transmission of the infection. For example, in schools having young kids, installing alcohol-based or non-alcohol-based sanitizers can be done so that kids are constantly reminded to sanitize their hands. The main reason for this is to stop any kind of infectious illness that any child could be carrying.
In the case of offices, alcohol-based sanitizers are installed, keeping in mind that this installation will keep the employees healthy by not spreading the virus. When we talk about installation in hospitals, alcohol-based sanitizers are installed to maintain the overall hygiene of the place.
Selecting a good hand sanitizer
In case you are in a place where you have no access to water and soap and your only option available is hand sanitizer, then one must be smart enough to select a product that is worth it. According to doctors, in case water and soap are unavailable and you need to wash your hands, selecting one with a minimum of 60% is essential for effective cleaning. An individual can avoid the purchase of alcohol-free hand sanitizers as there may not be any scientific data available regarding their effectiveness. On the contrary, one thing that we know is that alcohol for sure kills germs and viruses. One should never compromise on the sanitizer’s quality and never try to make one on your own.
Benzalkonium chloride is an active ingredient that is found in some good-quality sanitizers. This ingredient has been researched and found to effectively fights several bacteria and viruses, but not as much as the alcohol-based ones.
Even though benzalkonium chloride works well in fighting norovirus, when it’s time to deal with seasonal flu-like coronavirus, it falls short in front of the alcoholic sanitizers.
Another reason why alcohol-based sanitizers have a greater preference than alcohol-free ones is because of the presence of preservatives in them. These preservatives ensure that there is no early chance of contamination.
Do not make your sanitizers at home.
With an increase in covid cases and huge demand for hand sanitizers, the world faced a huge shortage of them. To match this shortage, the world health organization issued a formulation just so pharmaceutical companies could use these formulations and make an effective product. Having known the formulation, several individuals and local bodies thought it was an easy money-making process and tried to copy these formulations at home. Now accessibility to these formulations does in no way confirm the efficacy of the product they made at home. Let us look at the formulation that the World health organization disclosed:
- As a moisturizer for the skin and to prevent it from drying out, emollient hydrogen peroxide 3% is to be added to the solution.
- Forming the base and main active ingredient here is ethanol, which is 96%
- To protect the sanitizer from any type of contamination from the environment, 98% of glycerol is used in hand sanitizers.
- Distilled sterile water ( one could also use tap water that has been brought to a boil and finally cooled and used) should be used.
Now, even though the main components are known, it is still recommended not to make sanitizers at home because:
- Alcohol levels in the sanitizers are crucial, and a thermometer-like instrument called an alcoholometer is used to calculate this. In a home setup, it becomes practically impossible to maintain these alcohol levels. This wrong measurement of alcohol, in turn, leads to a non-productive, lower quality, and sub-standard product that does not do its job but rather fools people.
- One may be exposed to hazardous chemical components while preparing the sanitizer. Doing so at home exposes one to a greater risk as your home may not be well equipped to fight any crucial situation that may arise later.
- Homes can never be as sterile as the atmosphere that pharmaceutical companies create.
- Recipes we see on the internet have tweaked the recipe by adding essential oils, reducing the product’s efficacy.
- Many people have reported burns and skin irritation cases to use these substandard sanitizers at home.
- Since we know that alcohol forms the base of all sanitizers, we should ignore the fact that it is highly inflammable and could lead to dangerous situations at home. Laboratories or big pharmaceutical companies are well equipped to deal with such situations, but at home, it could cause a huge impact and great damage to property and human life.
Since we were kids, we have been taught that maintaining hygiene is essential, and hand washing forms a base. There are times when you would love to put on your favorite soap and lather it, but that may not always be possible, and for situations like these where it’s difficult to get hold of water and soap, hand sanitizer is your best friend. Therefore, always carry your hand sanitizers and keep yourself, the people, and the society around you safe and free of germs and infections.