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Sanitizer... The modern-day hero. In recent times, you have probably talked about, bought, and used more hand sanitizer than in the rest of your lifetime added up. These days, we don’t know what we would do without it. It is a great defense to help us fight off germs, bacteria, and viruses.
Whether you are on the subway or in the office, a quick spritz of hand sanitizer is a great way to ward off germs quickly, especially when we are out and about and don’t have access to a sink and soap. According to experts, after washing your hands, hand sanitizer is the next best thing.
But, how much do you really know about what you are putting on your skin? Most of us use sanitizer without thinking. But, if we are going to use it every day, maybe we should learn a little more about what has become a handbag staple. That’s where we come in. Here is everything you need to know about sanitizer...
What is Hand Sanitizer?
Hand sanitizer is a product that can be rubbed into your skin to help kill germs, bacteria, and viruses. It can come in either a gel or a liquid form and is designed to be used throughout the day to protect against anything that you may pick up from touching public surfaces (for example public transport handles or shopping trolleys).
There are variations in the way each hand sanitizer is made, but generally, they will contain these three specific elements: alcohol, water, and emollients/ polyacrylate/ base/ colors/ fragrance.
Alcohol: Hand sanitizer is usually minimum 60% alcohol-based. Alcohol is the ingredient that actually works to destroy germs, as it can break down the outer coatings of bacteria and viruses. It is chosen as one of the few disinfectants that can be put on your skin without harm.
Water: Water usually makes up less than 40% of a sanitizer. The function of water is to act as a carrier and help the sanitizer spread around your hands.
Emollients/Polyacrylate/Base/Colors/Fragrance: These elements make up around 1% of the sanitizer. Emollients help moisturize the skin. Polyacrylate helps create the gel. The base helps neutralize polyacrylate. Colors change the color and the fragrance makes it smell nicer.
Is using hand sanitizer as good as washing your hands?
Unfortunately, no. Although hand sanitizer is a really good way of helping protect yourself against germs when you are on the go, it doesn’t work as well as washing your hands with soap and water. Here's why…
While sanitizer works by breaking down the microbes that are on your skin, hand washing doesn’t just break them down, but it also can remove them entirely. Removing microbes is a more reliable and quicker way of keeping germs away. This is particularly true as some viruses and bacteria have stronger membranes, which means alcohol isn’t enough to break them down, they need something stronger (like handwashing). Finally, if your hands are greasy or dirty, there will be a barrier between your skin and the sanitizer. This means, again, the sanitizer won’t work so well.
How often should I use hand sanitizer?
There are some key times that it is important to wash your hands. These include:
1. When you are cooking
2. Before and after eating
3. After using the toilet
4. After helping a child use the toilet
5. After handling an animal or pet (or pet food)
6. After touching excrement
7. After handling garbage
8. After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
9. Before and after touching a wound
10. Before and after looking after someone who is sick
So, if you do not have access to a sink and soap at any of these times, using hand sanitizer is a good idea. It is also a good idea to use hand sanitizer after using public transport or touching a public surface.
Is hand sanitizer bad for your skin?
Unfortunately, as some of us have learned the hard way, using hand sanitizer a lot can damage our skin by making it dry and cracked. This is because our skin usually has a healthy layer of oil around it to keep it healthy, but the alcohol in hand sanitizer can destroy this.
However, the good news is that often hand sanitizer is made with an emollient agent, that helps to moisturize the skin to counteract this process. For example, this Pippette Hand Sanitizer is designed to both kill germs and keep your skin healthy, with a built-in moisturizer!
Aside from this, hand sanitizer should be safe to use on your skin (just don’t let it go in your eyes or mouth). If you have a further reaction to hand sanitizer, it is important you go to your doctor to diagnose and treat the issue.
The bottom line…
So, hand sanitizer has got its pros and cons, but it is still a useful tool to keep germs at bay. Here are three top tips to live by when using sanitizer.
Use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Not all sanitizers will kill every germ, but, generally, the higher the alcohol content, the more likely it is to do the job. Experts currently recommend using a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol, as this will work against Covid-19 microbes.
Cover all surfaces. Hand sanitizer will work well to help kill germs on your hands, as long as every part of your hand is covered. Squeeze the sanitizer into your palm and rub over your whole hands until it is dry, this way it can do its job properly!
Don’t stop washing your hands. Think of Sanitizer as Robin and Hand Washing as Batman. You always need Batman, but if Batman is busy, Robin will do until he arrives.