Alcohol-Based Gels Best for Arresting Germs
If a web survey were taken, most people would likely reply they need to wash their hands more often. All too often, it’s a splash and a swipe after using the bathroom; before eating; plays with pets; after outdoor activities; cleaning the house; or after sneezing or coughing.
It should come as no surprise that hundreds of invisible microscopic invaders reside on our hands, under our nails, on our jewelry, and we can spread bacteria quite easily to others. We leave bacteria on doors and doorknobs, elevator buttons, stair rails, pens or keyboards, and on our telephones. We unwittingly share our germs with friends, family and colleagues just by shaking hands.
Hand hygiene is the best way to stop the spread of infectious disease. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate one out of three people do not wash their hands after using the restroom.
The correct way to wash hands is:
- Remove rings and other jewelry that can trap bacteria;
- Use warm, running water and wet your hands;
- Use soap on your hands, fingers and nails for 20-30 seconds;
- Rinse with warm, running water until all soap is rinsed off the skin;
- Dry your hands, preferably with paper towel, and turning the faucet off with the towel to prevent re-contamination.
The use of alcohol-based hand rub is a great alternative to handwashing, as long as hands are not visibly soiled.
Most survey researchers thought washing with plain soap and water was fine. A research study presented at the Infectious Diseases Society for America showed anti-bacterial soaps were no better than regular soaps. Seventy-six percent of Americans purchase antimicrobial liquid soaps for personal use.
In the randomized, double blind study, 224 New York City homemakers were divided into two groups. One group was given ordinary liquid soap; the rest antimicrobial soap. All participants’ hands were cultured for germs at the beginning and end of the study. Starting out, participants’ hands were covered with 800,000 to one million bacterial residents.
At year’s end, tests revealed both groups had reduced their hand germs to 300,000. The difference for both groups, the survey director said, as participants were taking more time to wash their hands thoroughly.
The survey director added that the antimicrobial agent, triclosan, requires several minutes of handwashing to work, and most people aren’t patient enough to wash their hands for an extended period of time.
A better solution is alcohol-based gels, which kills more germs and viruses. The CDC has recommended alcohol-based, waterless hand rubs for health care settings. McLaren Bay Region has alcohol-based hand rubs available in all patient care areas.
To use an alcohol-based hand rub, places a quarter size amount into the palm of the hand, and rub hands together. Make sure to get in between the fingers and around the nails.
So, now you know the facts: your health is in your hands. Wash often, wash vigorously, and wash as if your life depended on it. You never know – it may!