How safe are hand-sanitizers during Corona scare?Nuturemite
Hand-sanitizers have got hyped a lot after COVID-19 outbreak. A lot of people don’t want to go through the trouble of hand-washing as you can have germ-free hands in 5 seconds. How much do we know about it? How much should we use it? Are there specific instructions for the same? Let’s talk more about this.
World Health Organization (WHO) took to social media recently to spread awareness about protecting yourself amid the corona outbreak. On of the topmost advised usage was of sanitizers. It also killed another type of coronavirus i.e. Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Doctors recommend alcohol-based sanitizers that too with a concentration of at least 60%. Also, studies show that sanitizers with lesser concentration of alcohol may just lower the growth of germs in place of killing them. Thus, the use of sanitizers with an alcohol concentration of 60-95% is the most effective one.
Analyzing the ingredients of hand-sanitizers
The common ingredients of hand sanitizers are isopropanol, ethanol or n-propanol as the active ingredient; polyacrylic acid or glycerin as the thickening agent; Propylene Glycol, essential oils for scent; Benzalkonium Chloride, Povidone-Iodine or Triclosan as the active ingredient in non-alcohol based sanitizers. Isopropanol, ethanol or n-propanol are all alcohols. So, Ethanol makes it easier for other foreign chemicals to absorb through the skin. Isopropanol is known to irritate the skin.
Polyacrylic acid is used as absorbent material in diapers. Propylene Glycol is a very safe compound that is used as a food additive. Benzalkonium Chloride can cause skin irritation and in a concentration above 0.1%, it can act as a sensitizer. The dangers of the same are known. Povidone-Iodine is rubbed on the skin to sanitize it before going under the knife for operations. So it’s going to be pretty safe and you can choose the alcohol-based one (also, if you like the cool feeling it gives as it is produced by the evaporation of alcohol).
Advantages of hand-sanitizers
The chances to get ill reduces.
The chances of infection reduces.
It kills all microorganisms and bacteria from our hand.
Hand sanitizers are very portable to use, it is very handy to carry as sometimes you won’t find water and sink to wash your hands.
So, you can use hand sanitizers before having meals or shaking hands when you are attending any group meeting/gathering. This practice acts as a safeguard against the common cold, fever, viral, etc.
Disadvantages of hand-sanitizers
Hand sanitizers are not safe for children with less than 5 years of age.
It causes eye infection.
It sometimes causes stomach ache and vomiting.
It never cleans 100% germs from our hands; it’s best for removal of bacteria.
Hand sanitizers kill both good and bad bacteria.
It never removes visible dirts from our hands.
It is very flammable in nature. Flammable objects should be kept away from it.
Some of them contain phthalate which is an endocrine disruptor. (Endocrine disruptors decrease fertility, are obesogenic, etc.)
Overuse of sanitizers can cause your personal bacteria to become resistant to sanitizing.
Hand sanitizers aren’t active against norovirus which causes a certain type of diarrhoea.
Some of them leave a slick residue that may feel uncomfortable for some users.
Hand-sanitizers on other parts?
Hand sanitizers applied on the hands. Most sanitizers contain alcohol which kills germs but is very drying. Some sanitizers contain aloe and other skin nutrients. The skin on your hands is thicker and can bear more abuse than the skin of your face. Hence, even non-alcohol based sanitizers shouldn’t be applied on the face or other body parts apart from hands.
Is it safe to eat after applying hand-sanitizer?
It is fine to eat directly after drying the sanitizer from your hands. It contains ethyl alcohol(edible) with around 0.01% bacteriocidal chemicals. As compared to our daily consumption of these chemicals, sanitizers contain a negligible amount of the same. Also, one consumes more harmful bacteria directly from the food.
Hand-sanitizer vs hand-washing
Hand sanitizers are the best portable alternative for hygiene when you don’t have access to water and soap. Hand washing effectively removes viruses. Sanitizers seem to be killing the germs and viruses but they don’t effectively clean your hands like hand-washing does. Thus, the latter removes all the dirt and debris that’s on your skin and drains it down the sink.