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Hand sanitisers and coronavirus

15th April 2020

Just like the common cold, flu, and other respiratory infections, SARS-COV-2 is spread to other people through droplets from the infected person’s nose or mouth. Aside from inhaling the virus-laden droplets, you can also get infected if you touch surfaces that are contaminated by the virus and then touch your face.

Washing with soap and warm water is still the best hand hygiene practice and works well in preventing the spread of various kinds of infectious diseases. Proper handwashing can help remove oils, which can harbour microbes, in your hand. However, hand sanitisers can also serve the same function. This product has been proven effective when it comes to the type and number of microbes in your hand.

The sales of hand sanitisers shot through the roof since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The increase in demand has forced stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies to limit the number of bottles that consumers can buy at a time. Manufacturers have tried to boost their production to meet the need for this product. But it usually just takes a few minutes for this item to get sold out after the shelves have been refilled.

Types of hand sanitisers

There are two primary types of hand sanitisers. The first one is alcohol-based. It contains different amounts of alcohol usually between 60% and 95% and varying types of alcohol like n-propanol, ethanol or ethyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol.

They’re effective at killing MRSA, E coli, and other types of bacteria and in getting rid of rhinovirus, MERS-CoV or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, influenza A virus, HIV, hepatitis A virus, and other types of viruses. Meanwhile, the alcohol-free version usually contains benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol. Here at UK Meds, we sell the alcohol type of hand sanitisers,  which contains 70% alcohol, surpassing the 60% requirement. Because they are so in-demand, we limit customers to 5 bottles per order. We also offer an alcohol-free alternative, which is the SurSol hand sanitiser.

How do hand sanitisers work?

Viruses like coronavirus are surrounded by envelope protein, which is important for their multiplication and survival. Hand sanitisers that contain at least 60% alcohol attacks and destroys this protein and kills most types of viruses. Hand sanitisers with less than 60% alcohol can only reduce the growth of germs and are less effective at eliminating bacteria and fungi.

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers may reduce the number microbes in your hands only in some situations. It cannot get rid of all kinds of germs like norovirus, the parasite known as cryptosporidium, which causes diarrhoea, and clostridium difficile, which also causes bowel problems.

Proper handwashing still remains the best way to lower the risk of contracting the virus. Sanitising solutions can inactivate several types of microbes if used correctly. However, many people don’t use a large enough amount of sanitisers or wipe it off before it has dried, which makes it ineffective.

Can hand sanitisers remove harmful chemicals?

Unfortunately, they may not be effective at removing harmful chemicals like heavy metals and pesticides from the hands. One study revealed that people who reported using a sanitising solution to clean their hands had higher pesticide levels in their bodies. Washing hands with water and soap remains the best solution.

How to use sanitising solution for hands properly

If you are shopping for hand sanitisers, you must go for one that contains more than 60% alcohol. Check the label at the back of the bottle and be sure to follow the instructions written on it. Apply a sufficient amount of the liquid to your palm and wait about 20 seconds for it to dry. Avoid wiping the sanitizer before it dries because if you do, it won’t be as effective as it should be.

There are several instances when you have to use your hand sanitiser like before and after you touching any surface that may have been touched by others like shopping carts, money, elevator buttons, and door handles. You should also use your hand sanitiser after every time you sneeze and cough, or better yet, wash your hands right away.

Are hand sanitisers safe?

There’s no proof that hand sanitisers are harmful to your health, if used properly. If someone swallows hand sanitiser, especially the one that contains ethyl alcohol, they could experience alcohol poisoning. Children are the common victims of alcohol poisoning and that’s why if you have kids at home, you should store this product out of the reach of young children.

When combined with proper handwashing and other preventative measures, using hand sanitiser can help to boost your protection against the flu, COVID-19, and other illnesses. It’s a good alternative if you can’t wash your hands because there’s no water and soap.

Keep your hands clean with disposable gloves

You can consider using disposable gloves along with hand sanitisers to be extra safe when you are in areas you believe may be contaminated with Coronavirus. If you use disposable gloves, be certain to use hand sanitiser when finished. This will kill bacteria or viruses which manage to touch your hands during the disposal process.

Face masks

When entering areas you believe may be contaminated, N95 masks can be useful to avoid inhaling dust or droplets which may contain the coronavirus. There are many types of masks which are useful in preventing the spread of Coronavirus, including FFP2/N95 masks and surgical masks.