The rise of the Coronavirus pandemic all over the world has made people more aware of the importance of hand hygiene and in a way, this is a good thing. But a lot of us think that hand sanitizers are absolutely essential and should be used at all times, but in reality, you don’t have to. Here’s how and why we think that combining with a good hand washing routine is key.
What You Need To Know About Hand Sanitizers
For a start, hand sanitizers are a mixture of ingredients that work to disinfect the skin against certain viruses and bacteria, with rubbing alcohol (isopropanol) or ethanol as the main ingredient in the product.
When it comes to purchasing one, look for alcohol content with 60% at the minimum as anything lower (or worse, using substitutes of alcohol) than that won’t do much for disinfecting the skin. At the minimum threshold, hand sanitizers are deemed decent enough to reduce the significant growth of the germs hovering on your hands.
The Proper Way To Use Hand Sanitizers
The key is to pour a specific amount to your palm and rub them all over the skin until they are thoroughly dried (instead of wiping them off). This step takes about 20 seconds. This amount of time is equivalent to you humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
A side note: use hand sanitizers only when your hands are generally clean; if your fingers are greasy or dirty, it’s better you find a sink to wash your hands with soap and water instead.
Is Using Hand Sanitizers Enough For My Hygiene Routine?
Unfortunately, no. Hand sanitizers work wonders on occasions where soap and water are not near you. It’s an alternative, instead of a total replacement of washing your hands with soap and water. Hand sanitizers don’t remove germs or viruses completely.
Also, frequent use of hand sanitizers can certainly dry out the skin (the majority of the ingredient is alcohol, after all) and this can cause your skin to crack if you don’t prevent it in the first place, and the effect is more pronounced if you have sensitive skin.
Hence, use hand sanitizers when the occasion permits it, such as being outside of your home, cleaning your hands after a cough, or perhaps you need a quick swipe to disinfect surfaces before touching them, like shopping carts or door handles.
The Correct Way To Wash Your Hands With Soap And Water
Now, we have covered the why and the how’s for hand sanitizers, here’s how to practice good hand hygiene routine with soap and water. Why? Because washing your hands with both soap and water is proven to be more hygienic as the nature of the soap is able to lift off dirt, oil, germs, and various microbes away from your skin, compared to using water alone.
Simply wet your hands and fingers thoroughly with water (be it cold or warm) and apply a decent amount of soap to the palm of your hands. Rub every nook and cranny of your hands for about 20 seconds (again, singing or humming the Birthday song twice can certainly help!). This step will create a good amount of lather and this creates friction that will help to purge out all of the dirt, impurities, germs, and grease efficiently.
How To Avoid Dry Skin
You need to moisturize your hands after washing your hands or using the hand sanitizer. The reason why this step is essential is the mixture of soap and water will strip off not only dirt and germs but also the natural oil of your skin, as well as weakening the skin’s natural barrier - the outermost layer that’s responsible for protecting the skin’s integrity.
For most of us, the effects may not be obvious, but you can see this on people with sensitive skin or eczema. As their skin’s natural barrier is not as strong, their skin gets extremely dry, and in the long run, it can cause redness, crack and minor bleeds.
While you can’t exclude hand washing as part of your routine, using a moisturizer afterward can certainly prevent your skin from drying unnecessarily. A good idea is for you to have a travel-size tube of hand cream/lotion with you at all times, especially if you’re going out. Choose the one that is suitable for your skin types - normal to oily skin would benefit from regular hand lotion while sensitive skin types are best suited with a rich hand cream that is nourishing for the skin.
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