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7 Things to Know About Hand Sanitizer

When to use it, how it works and why you shouldn't make it at home

by Rachel Nania, AARP, June 12, 2020

woman outside rubbing hand sanitizer on her hands, the bottle of sanitizer sitting in front of her

 

One of the best ways to prevent a coronavirus infection is to wash your hands with soap and water — and when soap and water aren't available, public health experts say alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best option.

But just how effective are gels and sprays when it comes to getting rid of dangerous germs, such as the coronavirus? Here are seven things you should know about hand sanitizer.

1. Hand sanitizer kills germs but doesn't clean your hands

Soap and water reign supreme when it comes to infection control, but believe it or not, soap and water do not kill germs; they remove them. The duo's effectiveness boils down to the mechanics of handwashing.

The rubbing and scrubbing of soap between your palms and fingers creates friction that breaks down the structure of the bacteria and loosens the germs from your skin, explains Maryanne McGuckin, an infection prevention specialist and author of The Patient Survival Guide: 8 Simple Solutions to Prevent Hospital- and Healthcare-Associated Infections. When you rinse your hands under water, you wash those germs down the drain.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, on the other hand, do kill germs on the skin — most germs, anyway. Hand sanitizer is less effective at killing Cryptosporidium, norovirus and Clostridium difficile, all of which cause diarrhea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. Scientists suspect hand sanitizer does, however, kill the coronavirus.

Hand sanitizers also don't work as well if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy, and they may not remove harmful chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals like lead.

2. Sanitizer trumps soap and water in certain situations

Because handwashing — when done properly — is better at getting rid of germs and grime, hand sanitizer, for the most part, should be used as a backup to soap and water. “The time to use hand sanitizer is when you can't get to a sink and some clean water and a clean towel,” says Elaine Larson, professor emerita of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and a scholar in residence at New York Academy of Medicine.

That said, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer as a first choice in certain situations, such as before and after visiting a friend or loved one in a hospital or nursing home. (That's why you'll often see dispensers posted directly outside patient rooms.) A squirt of hand sanitizer on your way in and out reduces the likelihood you'll introduce a dangerous bug or leave with one. It's also a good idea to use hand sanitizer regularly when interacting with people who have weakened immune systems, Larson says.

3. Not all hand sanitizers are equal

To kill most disease-causing germs, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Anything less than that may not work as well “for many types of germs,” and could “merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright,” the CDC says.

When searching the shelves, you may come across hand sanitizers that contain benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol. These products, however, are not recommended by the CDC, since “available evidence indicates benzalkonium chloride has less reliable activity against certain bacteria and viruses” compared to alcohol-based sanitizers.

4. Sanitizing technique matters

Hand sanitizer works best when used correctly. Apply the recommended amount to the palm of your hand (make sure it's enough to cover the entire surface of both hands) and distribute the sanitizer all over, paying special attention to the fingertips, “because that's where you touch most other things,” Larson says.

Continue rubbing the hand sanitizer into your hands until your skin is completely dry — it should take about 20 seconds. This step is key, both Larson and McGuckin say.

"The alcohol works and it does kill the virus and most bacteria, but the problem that we have … is that people don't use it appropriately for the given period of time,” McGuckin adds.

infographic showing a series of nine diagrams demonstrating proper hand hygiene
COURTESY WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

5. Cleaning products are not a substitute for hand sanitizer

Disinfectant sprays and antibacterial cleaning wipes should not be used as stand-ins for hand sanitizer. These products are meant for “hard, nonporous surfaces,” not human skin, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says.

Even so, some people are using them this way. A report released by the CDC in early June found that approximately one-third of adult respondents in a recent survey engaged in “nonrecommended high-risk practices” with cleaning supplies in an effort to prevent a coronavirus infection. These practices included using bleach on food products, applying household cleaning and disinfectant products to skin, and inhaling or ingesting cleaners and disinfectants — all of which are unsafe.

6. Hand sanitizer can be dangerous

Hand sanitizer can be toxic when ingested, especially by children. It can irritate the lining of the throat and cause gastrointestinal issues. And “drinking only a small amount” can cause alcohol poisoning in kids, according to the FDA. If you or your child ingests hand sanitizer, call poison control or a medical professional immediately.

Hand sanitizer is also flammable. Though the CDC says the incidence of fires due to alcohol-based hand sanitizer is “very low,” it advises hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities to store hand sanitizer in a safe manner away from sources of ignition. The U.S. Postal Service also has restrictions on shipping alcohol-based hand sanitizer through the mail due to flammability concerns.

7. Homemade hand sanitizer can be ineffective

There's no shortage of recipes for homemade hand sanitizer on the internet during this pandemic era. But the FDA, which regulates hand sanitizers, says it's best to leave the production of germ-killing gels to the professionals.

"If made incorrectly, hand sanitizer can be ineffective, and there have been reports of skin burns from homemade hand sanitizer,” the agency says.

Also: Adding rubbing alcohol to a bottle of non-alcohol hand sanitizer will not make the sanitizer more powerful. The FDA says it “is unlikely to result in an effective product.”

https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/hand-sanitizer.html

 

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From an on line Senior's website which I'm a Member  https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/health/covid19/glasses-cut-covid-infections-study? This although not conclusive I found interesting as

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SkyMan

I use a mix of bleach, ammonia, and muriatic acid.  I like the smell and the tingle.

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HongKongPhooey

#8 Men should not apply to hands before a visit to the urinal.

source: guy who did that and didn’t enjoy the tingling sensation.

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SkyMan

This is interesting about the rise of cases in the US.  I don't know anything about the reliability of PJ Media.

https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/matt-margolis/2020/06/29/dont-be-fooled-recent-coronavirus-data-suggests-the-lockdowns-were-a-colossal-mistake-n586155?fbclid=IwAR1Dq-1KYbJrInU8wnPXETIL61HwQJbUzAWJDv95PKHs_nEjdu3LxQCFiv0

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Don't Be Fooled, Recent Coronavirus Data Suggests the Lockdowns Were a Colossal Mistake

In various states across the nation, there’s been a noticeable trend of an increase in coronavirus cases. While this fact makes the headlines, the detail that seems to get overlooked is the fact that deaths have declined. Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, and Ohio are among the states that have experienced spikes in cases but have maintained declining death rates or no spike in deaths.

How is this possible? Conventional wisdom suggests that a spike in cases should result in a spike in deaths, but that has not panned out. The protests and riots following George Floyd’s death have been going on for nearly a month now. Surely a spike in deaths should shave occurred by now. But so far, it hasn’t. 

Why not? 

According to Justin Hart, an information architect and data analyst from San Diego, “who” gets the virus is just as important as “how many” get the virus. “Right now the average age of infected cases has dropped nearly 20 years,” Hart told PJ Media. 

White House Coronavirus Task Force Member Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged this fact last week: “The overwhelming majority of people who are now getting infected are young people, like the people that you see in the clips in the paper or out in the crowds enjoying themselves.”  

Why does this matter, you ask? Let me explain.

Coronavirus data says risk is low for most Americans

Young people, possibly from the recent protests and riots, are likely behind the recent spike in cases, and that tells us a lot about why the data looks the way it does right now. According to the CDC’s current best estimate, the fatality rate of the coronavirus for symptomatic cases only are as follows:

0-49 years old: .05%

50-64 years old: .2%

65+ years old: 1.3%

Overall ages: .4%

When you take into account that approximately 30% of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic, that drives the fatality rate down even further. “The risk of death for the general population of school and working age is typically in the range of a daily car ride to work,” notes Josh Ketter on Medium.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, an expert in infectious diseases in Scotland, led a study that determined current lockdown restrictions could be easily lifted as long the most vulnerable populations are left protected. According to Woolhouse, for the non-vulnerable population, the coronavirus is comparable to a “nasty flu.”

Lockdowns should have focused on protecting the vulnerable

What the data is clearly telling us is that the lockdowns were not implemented correctly. While there is a significant risk for the older, at-risk population, for those under 65 years of age, the economy could have been kept open. Schools didn’t have to close down, and “non-essential” businesses could have continued to serve the public, many of whom had as much a chance of dying from the coronavirus as they did dying on their daily commute, but the lockdowns kept everyone, including the young and healthy, at home. We could have worn masks out in public to help slow the spread and flatten the curve to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Life could have remained relatively normal, and the economy didn’t have to suffer the way it did. 

“We knew early on that younger cohorts managed very well,” Hart explained to PJ Media. “We should have let that group thrive to keep the economy going while protecting the vulnerable.” 

Protecting the vulnerable is where many, particularly New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, went wrong. On March 25, Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept patients regardless of their coronavirus status. Even back then, it was known that the elderly were more vulnerable to the virus, so having coronavirus patients in nursing homes allowed the virus to spread like wildfire. Cuomo tried to cover up his deadly mistake before ultimately rescinding the order on May 11. 

Nursing home patients represent a mere .46 percent of the United States population but account for approximately 43 percent of all coronavirus deaths. States should have protected them better from the beginning. Had they, we could have had a more strategic approach to the coronavirus lockdowns that allowed businesses and schools to stay open while quarantining the vulnerable.

The one-size-fits-all approach was a mistake

If school and working-age Americans understood that their risk of dying from the coronavirus was roughly the same as it is of dying during a daily car ride, do you think they’d want to continue the lockdowns? I don’t think so. Whether people realize it or not, every day they are making an assessment of risk as they go about their lives. It was true before the coronavirus, during it, and it will continue to be afterward. Is it really worth being afraid of living given the extremely low risk of fatality for a majority of the population? We should redirect resources to protecting the vulnerable and let the rest of us get this country working again.

The United States isn’t alone

Israel is also experiencing a second wave of cases that is mostly occurring in younger people. Israel did not experience the protests and rioting we had in the United States, but bars, beaches, and school reopened, causing a spike in cases, but, as you can see from the graphs from Worldometer, no spike in deaths.

Note: This post has been updated with new information.

 

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Ozepete

When there is so much evidence of how to contain the virus from countries that have vastly different (smaller) infection rates, why is there so much difficulty in countries with huge rates, following what they can learn from those successful?  Is it a pride thing or what? Find out what worked for successfull countries and apply that... not rocket science surely! 

All of Oz got shut down and well policed with heavy fines for violators.  Even state borders closed.  No one can fly / sail into Oz without going into state run quarantine for at least 2 weeks and passing tests otherwise stay locked up. Our leaders actually acted quickly and observed / applied the successful practices of several SE Asia countries. 

This full on action has all but eradicated the virus with restrictions now gradually being removed. We've got footy again and can travel around, thank God! Expecting all back to normal soon except still no country border entry from overseas.  Stopping all border free people movement is essential. 

The interesting thing is the test results and origins tracking which they are doing with every case. The vast majority of new cases were tracked back to persons entering the country and therefore the controlled state quarantine of all arrivals including Aussies returning from o/seas was enforced further.

It's been tough for many but worked. A short period with total involvement seems to be the answer, short of a vaccine. 

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Dafey
4 hours ago, SkyMan said:

In various states across the nation, there’s been a noticeable trend of an increase in coronavirus cases. While this fact makes the headlines, the detail that seems to get overlooked is the fact that deaths have declined. Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, and Ohio are among the states that have experienced spikes in cases but have maintained declining death rates or no spike in deaths.

How is this possible? Conventional wisdom suggests that a spike in cases should result in a spike in deaths, but that has not panned out. The protests and riots following George Floyd’s death have been going on for nearly a month now. Surely a spike in deaths should shave occurred by now. But so far, it hasn’t.

The recent spikes are predominantly younger Americans that thought since the government opened up it was cool to go out and party, protest and practice social closeness again.

The older folks are, (I dare say), a little wiser and are waiting for this to happen, or not before they jump back into society.

When the young ones bring the virus back to Grandma we'll see the death rate rise again....wait on it...

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Edwin
5 hours ago, Dafey said:

The recent spikes are predominantly younger Americans that thought since the government opened up it was cool to go out and party, protest and practice social closeness again.

The older folks are, (I dare say), a little wiser and are waiting for this to happen, or not before they jump back into society.

When the young ones bring the virus back to Grandma we'll see the death rate rise again....wait on it...

It's the Young and the Ignorant that are spreading it in America. We have an extremely stupid segment of our society that doesn't understand what social distancing means. I'm not talking race or culture. Just supidity and it comes in all varieties.

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menehune

Many of my friends in the states are trying to do the safe thing, and i tell them what we have to do here. Too many of them want to move here. Hahaha They say they are just gonna die. Entilest and others that is just gonna kill the states. I am happy with what the goverment here says of what we have to do, even if it not what i think is the best. But its what they think they have to do. Im happy with that.

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jaybee747
10 hours ago, Ozepete said:

All of Oz got shut down and well policed with heavy fines for violators.  Even state borders closed.  No one can fly / sail into Oz without going into state run quarantine for at least 2 weeks and passing tests otherwise stay locked up. Our leaders actually acted quickly and observed / applied the successful practices of several SE Asia countries. 

This full on action has all but eradicated the virus with restrictions now gradually being removed. We've got footy again and can travel around, thank God! Expecting all back to normal soon except still no country border entry from overseas.  Stopping all border free people movement is essential. 

It's been tough for many but worked. A short period with total involvement seems to be the answer, short of a vaccine. 

Not so fast Ozepete,  "This full on action has all but eradicated the virus"... really? if Australia is so good how you explain today's news?

"MELBOURNE: Hundreds of thousands of people across Melbourne's north and west were ordered to stay at home on Tuesday as Australia's second-biggest city struggled to contain a spike in Covid-19 coronavirus cases"

https://www.nst.com.my/world/world/2020/06/604733/melbourne-under-lockdown-covid-19-cases-surge

"Victoria coronavirus surge prompts increased patrols on SA border"

https://7news.com.au/travel/victoria-coronavirus-surge-prompts-increased-patrols-on-sa-border-c-1135332

Edited by jaybee747
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lamoe
Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Ozepete said:

When there is so much evidence of how to contain the virus from countries that have vastly different (smaller) infection rates, why is there so much difficulty in countries with huge rates, following what they can learn from those successful?  Is it a pride thing or what? Find out what worked for successfull countries and apply that... not rocket science surely! 

All of Oz got shut down and well policed with heavy fines for violators.  Even state borders closed.  No one can fly / sail into Oz without going into state run quarantine for at least 2 weeks and passing tests otherwise stay locked up. Our leaders actually acted quickly and observed / applied the successful practices of several SE Asia countries. 

This full on action has all but eradicated the virus with restrictions now gradually being removed. We've got footy again and can travel around, thank God! Expecting all back to normal soon except still no country border entry from overseas.  Stopping all border free people movement is essential. 

The interesting thing is the test results and origins tracking which they are doing with every case. The vast majority of new cases were tracked back to persons entering the country and therefore the controlled state quarantine of all arrivals including Aussies returning from o/seas was enforced further.

It's been tough for many but worked. A short period with total involvement seems to be the answer, short of a vaccine. 

" A short period with total involvement seems to be the answer, short of a vaccine. " 

Completely agree, "total involvement " not just some, while others don't feel like it

 

 

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Ozepete
Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, jaybee747 said:

Not so fast Ozepete,  "This full on action has all but eradicated the virus"... really? if Australia is so good how you explain today's news?

"MELBOURNE: Hundreds of thousands of people across Melbourne's north and west were ordered to stay at home on Tuesday as Australia's second-biggest city struggled to contain a spike in Covid-19 coronavirus cases"

https://www.nst.com.my/world/world/2020/06/604733/melbourne-under-lockdown-covid-19-cases-surge

"Victoria coronavirus surge prompts increased patrols on SA border"

https://7news.com.au/travel/victoria-coronavirus-surge-prompts-increased-patrols-on-sa-border-c-1135332

REALLY!  Aus had 69 new cases yesterday compared to USA with 42,802 new cases,   and only ONE case in serious / critical care compared to 15,935 in the USA. Now even considering the population difference Aus has all but eradicated the virus. 

BTW, why is US media publishing a beat up regards a foreign country when there is such a disaster in their own backyard?

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Ozepete
18 minutes ago, lamoe said:

" A short period with total involvement seems to be the answer, short of a vaccine. " 

Completely agree, "total involvement " not just some, while others don't feel like it

 

 

Absolutely but there has to be total acceptance, commitment, enforcement and control from the top down. Half measures avail us nothing.  (Ever seen a lady who was a little bit pregnant?)

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jaybee747
1 hour ago, Ozepete said:

REALLY!  Aus had 69 new cases yesterday compared to USA with 42,802 new cases,   and only ONE case in serious / critical care compared to 15,935 in the USA. Now even considering the population difference Aus has all but eradicated the virus. 

BTW, why is US media publishing a beat up regards a foreign country when there is such a disaster in their own backyard?

I am not disputing that Australia done a better job but how can you claim that "Aus has all but eradicated the virus." ?

Quoting from Australian today's media... lockdowns, bans, not looked like virus is eradicated...

"Some Melbourne residents forced to stay home for four weeks"

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/some-melbourne-residents-forced-to-stay-home-for-four-weeks/12408028

"NSW to ban anyone from Victorian coronavirus hotspots from entering the state"

https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-nsw-what-restrictions-change-on-july-1/e0dc5525-f180-420e-9bc9-cb5f274d654c

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Ozepete
2 hours ago, jaybee747 said:

I am not disputing that Australia done a better job but how can you claim that "Aus has all but eradicated the virus." ?

Quoting from Australian today's media... lockdowns, bans, not looked like virus is eradicated...

"Some Melbourne residents forced to stay home for four weeks"

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/some-melbourne-residents-forced-to-stay-home-for-four-weeks/12408028

"NSW to ban anyone from Victorian coronavirus hotspots from entering the state"

https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-nsw-what-restrictions-change-on-july-1/e0dc5525-f180-420e-9bc9-cb5f274d654c

REALLY (again!)  With only 69 new cases and ONE case serious / critical,  the claim that "Aus has all but eradicated the virus." is very accurate.  (BTW in case this is just Aus slang, the term 'all but' relates to nearly, almost etc.)  

I was trying to emphasise the need to recognise the seriousness of this pandemic, the need for positive leadership and enforcement with each country enabled to act as a whole working together to prevent yet more thousands of deaths. That is what prevented big numbers in Aus and why all new cases are investigated and the source located and isolated. That is what the Aus press is telling you about 'hot spots' being isolated and that is what works... Look at the numbers! As of yesterday in the US you are 15,900 times more likely to be in an American hospital needing serious / critical care than if you was in Aus... This thing is SERIOUS! and it will only improve when the nit picking stops, we all face reality together with the facts, demand action from hopeless leaders and strictly enforce regulations. 

At least you get it Moe! :thumbsup:

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Salty Dog
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STUDENTS THROW COVID-19 PARTIES TO BET ON WHO WILL CATCH VIRUS FIRST

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- Officials in Tuscaloosa, Alabama say some students are throwing parties, competing to see who can catch COVID-19 first.

Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith spoke about this during a city council meeting on Tuesday, confirming the parties.

According to Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKistry, party organizers intentionally invite guests who have COVID-19. Then money is put into a pot. Whoever catches the virus first wins the pot.

Officials are outraged because they fear some students might go to these parties not knowing the intent and say this kind of behavior puts their loved one in jeopardy.

"It makes me mad as hell that, you know, we're constantly trying to do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus while they're just having a damn party trying to spread it," McKistry said.

It's not clear if the students who have COVID-19 have infected anyone at the parties.

According to ABC News, Smith didn't say exactly what is being done to stop the parties, but McKistry said they'll try to break up whatever gatherings they hear about.

It's not clear what schools the students attend, but Tuscaloosa is home to the University of Alabama and several other colleges.

Alabama has a "Safer at Home Order," and officials stress violating it is a misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to $500.

Shortly after Tuesday's meeting, city council unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance requiring face coverings be worn while in public. Tuscaloosa's ordinance will go into effect on July 6.

https://abc13.com/alabama-students-having-covid-19-parties-to-see-who-gets-it-first-pandemic-coronavirus/6291801/

 

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