Hand sanitisers and other personal protective equipment

1st May 2020

Personal protective equipment makes it easier for us to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Here we discuss two types of PPE, hand sanitisers and masks. What types of hand sanitiser and masks should you use? Learn more about face masks and hand sanitisers as we address questions below.

Can hand sanitisers cause antibiotic resistance?

To put it simply, bacteria and viruses cannot become resistant to alcohol. Hand sanitisers cannot cause antibiotic resistance. When the alcohol content is 60% or above, bacteria and viruses are effectively destroyed. Resistance in bacteria and viruses comes from antibiotics, not alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is the most common ingredient used in hand sanitisers. It kills germs by destroying the cell membrane of the germs and denatures the bacteria’s proteins.

The same is true of non-alcoholic hand sanitisers, such as Sursol. This type of hand sanitiser effectively kills all viruses and bacteria it comes in contact with. This is different than situations where a virus exists within your body and antibiotics killing most bacteria or viruses, leaving a few stronger germs behind which evolve into a more deadly germ culture.

Different types of germs

Infectious diseases rank as the most common cause of death around the world. These illnesses are caused by germs that we share when doing our daily activities like breathing, touching, drinking, and eating.

There are four types of germs that cause these infectious diseases. They are bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Bacteria are one-celled germs that multiply quickly, producing waste products that make people sick. Fungi include plants like mushrooms and mildew. Protozoa are one-celled animals that use other animals as a place to live and a source of food. Lastly, viruses are capsules that contain genetic material. They use the cells of the host to multiply.

What types of germs can hand sanitiser kill?

As mentioned above, there are four different types of germs (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses). Hand sanitisers can effectively kill all four types of germs. That makes hand sanitiser a great way to avoid Covid-19 you don't have easy access to soap and water.

Alcohols like ethyl alcohol and isoprophyl alcohol have long been known to eliminate germs by denaturing the outer protective proteins of microbes and dissolving them in the process. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser (like the type we sell) should be at least 60% alcohol in order for it to be effective.

Do hand sanitisers contain triclosan?

In recent years, the US banned use of the chemical triclosan in hand sanitisers. The UK has not yet banned this chemical, though many consider it harmful. None of our hand sanitisers (either our alcohol-based or non-alcoholic versions) contain triclosan. This chemical is believed to harm microbiomes that are found in the colon. A research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, Guodong Zhang discovered that triclosan can have adverse effects on gut health.

Even a small amount of triclosan can trigger a low-grade swelling, which could potentially lead to colitis. For years, Triclosan has been found in several household products like toothpaste, furniture, toys, cleaning products, and hand sanitisers. Although the chemical is effective at getting rid of bacteria, it posed a negative effect not only on the health of its users but in the environment as well. Because of that, the addition of triclosan in products like hand sanitizers has been banned in the US. While not yet banned in the UK, our sanitiser products do not contain triclosan.

What other types of personal protection equipment is helpful during the pandemic?

Masks can be very helpful in preventing the spread of coronavirus. There are many types of masks, and all of them are better than not having any filter for your breathing. The coronavirus is spread through respiration droplets, such as can be found in the air you exhale. All mask types filter these moisture droplets to some degree. A simple cloth face covering will prevent respiration droplets from entering your lungs, though it may not do as good of a job as other types of masks.

Surgical masks are the next level of protection. They will filter better than a simple homemade-style cloth mask, but they also allow some level of respiration droplets in and out. They are not as tightly fit as other types of face masks, such as N95 (FFP2) and N99 (FFP3) masks.

N95, also called FFP2 masks, provide A more effective filter for your breathing. These can block a larger percentage of respiration droplets from entering your lungs. This type of face mask filters better than the above-listed homemade masks as well as lose-fitting surgical masks.

FFP3 (N99) masks offer the highest level of protection from being contaminated with the coronavirus. While being more effective, they are also more expensive. All face masks have varying levels of effectiveness that range from the lowest (homemade cloth masks), to the highest (FFP3/N99 masks).

Which mask is right for you? Consider the situations in which you intend to use the masks. In scenarios where you are in a closely packed indoor area with potentially contaminated individuals, you may want to consider getting an FFP3 mask. On the other hand, if you are taking an outdoor walk and there are no large crowds, you may consider a surgical mask or simply using your own homemade mask.