Good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of illness. In response to the recent spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we be especially vigilant about practicing good hand hygiene.
Handwashing regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is preferred, but when soap and water aren’t available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
“The nice thing about alcohol-based hand sanitizers is they’re easy to use and portable, so you can bring them wherever you may be going,” says Laura Carmine, a Tidelands Health community wellness and industry nurse.
Dos and don'ts
The CDC recommends three simple steps when using hand sanitizer:
• Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand. Apply enough to cover all surfaces of your hands and fingers.
• Rub your hands together.
• Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
The CDC reminds consumers that sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs and may not remove harmful chemicals from your hands such as pesticides and heavy metals. They also aren’t the best option if your hands are visibly soiled, in which case it’s best to stick with soap and water.
And what about “natural” hand sanitizers or those that contain moisturizer? Regardless of any promises made by the product, a sanitizer must contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective, according to the CDC.
Hand sanitizer is safe to use with children, but Carmine says it’s important to supervise its use and keep it out of the reach of young children. If your child accidentally ingests hand sanitizer, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.
For more helpful coronavirus information and resources, visit the Tidelands Health coronavirus information center at tidelandshealth.org.