You cannot see them but did you know that you just might have millions of bacteria existing on your skin? While some bacteria is good, many of them cause a variety of illnesses. That is why a good hand washing with plenty of soap and water will shrink the numbers of bacteria rather quickly. However, what about those times when a place to wash hands is not available? Are those hand sanitizers worth it?
Looking at Hand Sanitizers
Most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based and can be a convenient way to guard yourself against some nasty bacteria. Isopropanol and ethanol are two types of alcohol that are often used in these sanitizers. Some of these sanitizers have irritated skin in the past so many of them now include a moisturizing ingredient. Using the hand sanitizers that have anywhere from 60-90% alcohol is best.
The great thing about hand sanitizers is that bacteria regrowth happens slowly. Of course you need to make sure that it is applied correctly. Typically a dollop of the stuff in your hands should be plenty. You should have plenty to lather with for at least one minute or two. If the sanitizer dries beforehand, then you did not use enough.
Keep in mind that hand sanitizers are not a good substitute for good old hand washing with soap and water. Sanitizers have their place while soap and water should be used when you have dirt or anything else still clinging in your hands.
These hand sanitizers are viewed very favorably in medical settings. Going from patient to patient means a lot of people to see and examine. By using these sanitizers rather than hand washing each and every time, medical professionals can move faster and get additional things done.
People who handle food cannot get away from just hand sanitizers. The problem is that you may handle raw food, get germs under the fingernails and more. That means only soap and water along with a fingernail brush will do to clean potential infection problems.
Antimicrobial soaps contain triclosan which is an antiseptic to help destroy some of the microorganisms. These soaps are most effective at killing germs when you scrub for at least 45 seconds or longer. Of course, just like anything else, antimicrobials could be a contributing cause to antibiotic resistance.
Hands down the best way to clean your hands is through old-fashioned soap and water. Lathering the soap and scrubbing under your fingernails is important in eradicating many germs that cause illness. You can essentially wash E. coli, Salmonella and a host of other microscopic beasties down the drain.
When you have no other choice, go ahead and use the alcohol-based hand sanitizers. However, as soon as you can, wash your hands with traditional soap and water. You can use antimicrobial soap if you have access to it but just keep in mind that possibility of contributing to antibiotic resistance, even though there is no definitive proof that it actually occurs.
Practice proper safety precautions and avoid contaminated surfaces such as door knobs, telephones and more. In addition, do not touch your face around the nose, eyes and mouth as these moist areas just love to court infection.