Since the outbreak of COVID-19, one thing that we’ve all learned is the importance of hand hygiene in controlling the spread of infection. We touch virtually everything with our hands, including surfaces and items that many others have touched as well, and may be a hot bed for viruses and bacteria.
Though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you wash your hands with soap and water to prevent the spread of germs, it may not be always possible to do so when we’re outside our homes. Soap and running water may not be available everywhere when you are out and about. This is when the use of hand sanitiser is so important. You can keep hand sanitisers in your bag, your car, or grab a pocket-sized sanitiser and carry it with you wherever you go.
Not only during a global pandemic, but at all times it is essential to be careful with hand hygiene. However, it is not as simple as squirting a bit of sanitiser on your hands and being assured that you are protected. It is important to use hand sanitiser properly to ensure you remove all bacteria and viruses and maintain optimal health and hygiene.
Choosing the right-hand sanitiser
In the early stages of the pandemic, people found it difficult to find hand sanitisers on store shelves as people stocked up on them in huge numbers. Now many companies are coming up with hand sanitisers and the stores are now full of them, but are all the same? Before you buy a hand sanitiser, be sure to read the product label. Always choose an alcohol-based product that contains at least 60% alcohol. You should avoid hand sanitisers containing methanol that can be toxic. Homemade hand sanitisers are not recommended by health professionals as they are ineffective and may damage your skin, as well as your health more generally.
How to Apply Hand Sanitiser
Not only do you need to use the right product, but you also need to apply the right amount of hand sanitiser for the best results. Using too little will not remove all the germs. The World Health Organization recommends that you apply a coin-sized amount of hand sanitiser. This should be enough to coat both hands and between your fingers as well.
Ideally, before applying hand sanitiser you should remove all the visible dirt from your hands by washing them with soap and water. Start by putting the sanitiser in the palm of one hand, then rub the sanitiser thoroughly to cover your thumbs, back of your hands, and between your fingers. Just like washing hands with soap, the application of hand sanitiser should take 20 to 30 seconds. This will be enough time for the sanitiser to absorb into the skin. You shouldn’t rinse or wipe the sanitiser – let it dry naturally.
Mistakes to avoid
It’s important to avoid common mistakes while applying hand sanitiser. Always use the right amount of hand sanitiser, otherwise it won’t be effective. Secondly, never wipe or rinse your hands before it dries. Thirdly, you shouldn’t use santiser when your hands are too dirty or greasy, hand sanitisers won’t work under such conditions. It’s best to wash your hands and then apply hand sanitiser for extra protection.
Most hand sanitisers have a shelf life of 24 months. It’s always advisable to check the expiry date, otherwise, it may be harmful to your skin. You should never ingest hand sanitiser as it can be hazardous. For this reason, keep it away from the children. You should also avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth right after using hand sanitiser. Keep in mind that sanitisers are flammable so it is unsafe to handle fire immediately after using a hand sanitiser. You shouldn’t use hand sanitiser if you have touched chemicals or pesticides. First, you need to wash your hands and then apply the hand sanitiser.
When to use hand sanitiser
The CBC recommends that even if you use hand sanitiser, you must not skip periodically washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitisers are very effective in killing germs and should be used when you cannot wash your hands with soap, for example when you just got out of your car or when you are waiting for the train, whether your own supply or from a hand sanitiser stand. After you touch any surface like railings or a car door, you must sanitise your hands. You can also use a hand sanitiser after washing your hands for an extra layer of protection. After sneezing or coughing, or after coming into contact with a sick person you should also sanitise your hands. This will limit the spread of germs and keep you safe.
Correctly using hand sanitiser, in combination with washing your hands with soap and water, means no matter where you will go you can prevent the spreading of germs by using hand sanitisers.