COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. The smaller droplets may remain suspended in the air for a while or they may fall on surfaces. Touching these infected surfaces can potentially spread the disease. Hence, high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, tabletops and railing are suggested to be cleaned regularly. Handwashing and avoiding touching these surfaces can also slow down the spread of the virus.
However, in cases where handwashing is not possible, hand sanitizers are recommended to be an effective way of maintaining hygiene. But like most things, hand sanitizers come with their own set of instructions. Here are some things to keep in mind while using hand sanitizers:
How to use hand sanitizers:
1. The sanitizer should contain at least 60% and up to 95% alcohol (ethanol); any less and it won’t be as effective.
2. Make sure to sanitize your hands every time you touch any high-touch surface if handwashing isn’t an option.
3. While using the sanitizer, rub properly all over your palms including between your fingers. This would take about 20 seconds but will properly sanitize your hands.
4. Be a responsible consumer and check the expiry date of the sanitizer when you buy it. Do not buy or use an expired product as they may not be as effective anymore.
5. Make sure your hands are visibly clean (free of grease, dirt or chemicals) before you sanitize your hands. If your hands are greasy, use soap and water to cleanse.
How not to use hand sanitizers:
1. Do not wipe your hands on something or blow on them to dry off the sanitizer after use. It makes the whole process redundant since your hands would get germs from whatever you wipe them on. Let the sanitizer dry on its own as you rub your hands.
2. Keep the sanitizer away from the reach of children and whenever possible, encourage them to wash their hands instead. This is because they can ingest the sanitizer, leading to alcohol poisoning. If you’re about to eat, pick handwashing over sanitizing. An ingredient called 1-propanol present in hand sanitizers can even affect the central nervous system on ingestion and lead to confusion, slow heart rate and reduced consciousness.
3. Do not stand near a flame right after you apply a sanitizer. Hand sanitizer contains alcohol and may catch fire.
4. Hand sanitizers, as the name implies, is to be used on hands only. It should not be used to wash food, vegetables and fruits.
5. Avoid overuse of hand sanitizers as it can dry your skin and cause the skin to crack. It becomes much easier for pathogenic microbes to enter the body through such cracks.
For more information, read our article on How to make hand sanitizer at home.
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