How do hand sanitisers work against novel coronavirus?
27th April 2020
The demand for hand sanitisers soared when the novel coronavirus started to spread outside China. Though social distancing, proper handwashing, and using face masks remain as the top safety measures when it comes to preventing transmission, using hand sanitisers is recommended especially when you’re out in public and there’s no way for you to wash your hands when needed.
The importance of hand hygiene
Safe personal hygiene is by far the best way to avoid getting the virus, experts say. First, you need to practice social distancing, which means staying at least six feet from others when in a public setting. This distance is beyond what the virus can typically travel from one individual to another. Second, you need to keep your hands clean.
Viruses, including the coronavirus, as well as bacteria, get into your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. They are transmitted when you’re closer than the recommended distance from the infected person who sneezes, coughs, or even just breathes in your direction. You may also get infected whenever you touch your face with your hands, if your hands have been touching surfaces that are contaminated.
Hand hygiene plays a crucial role in preventing further infection. There are two ways you can keep your hands clean. You can use soap and water or sanitisers containing at least 70% isopropanol or 60% ethanol. Of course, handwashing using soap and water for at least 20 seconds remains as the gold standard. However, there are instances when you don’t have access to soap and water, especially when you’re in public. That’s where hand sanitisers come in.
How does hand sanitisers kill COVID-19?
As previously mentioned, hand washing can get rid of the virus in your hands. However, it would only be effective if you do it vigorously for at least 20 seconds in order to lift the virus off the skin and flush it away through rinsing. If soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitisers are better instead of doing nothing.
Hand sanitizers serve the same purpose as soap and water, which is to get rid of the virus. Washing with soap and water thoroughly can remove wet and dry mucus after 30 seconds of scrubbing. A hand sanitizer works within the same amount of time provided that the mucus has dried for about 40 minutes. However, it took up to four minutes when it’s still wet. This tells us that it is best to use hand sanitiser on hands that are dry. If you are using hand sanitiser on your hands after washing them with soap, be certain to dry them properly first.
The process involved when using hand sanitisers when getting rid of the virus is different than that of soap and water. An alcohol-based hand sanitiser will break up the virus by destroying the virus cell’s outer membrane, killing it effectively, and rendering it unable to reproduce. Soap, on the other hand, strips lipids away from a virus causing its demise.
The 20-second rule also applies. It’s pretty simple. Apply a generous amount of hand sanitiser to your hand. Rub it into your skin and leave it for 20 seconds until it evaporates. Don’t rinse or wipe the hand sanitiser off. Once it has dried from your hands, any viruses which may have been on your hands should mostly be destroyed.
Are home made hand sanitisers as effective?
New studies have revealed that hand sanitisers can inactivate the novel coronavirus. The results of these studies have been published in the journal Emerging Infections Diseases.
Therefore, easily available but efficient disinfectants are needed. WHO’s guidelines for hand hygiene in healthcare suggest 2 alcohol-based formulations for hand sanitization to reduce the infectivity and spread of pathogens
The World Health Organizations has recommended two formulations for hand sanitisers. The first one is comprised of ethanol, glycerine, and hydrogen peroxide. The second suggested hand sanitiser is comprised of isopropanol, glycerine, and hydrogen peroxide. The efficiency of these two types also rely on how long you leave them on your hands’ skin. It should stay there for 20-30 seconds or until it dries up.
Hand sanitisers are effective alternatives to soap and water. Use them when you don’t have access to soap and flowing water.
One of the ways viruses find their way to our hands is when we touch contaminated surfaces. It makes sense to use a surface disinfectant in order to avoid having viruses on surfaces that can potentially infect us. By using surface cleaners which can disinfect, the chances of getting a virus on our hands are further reduced.
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