Debunking hand sanitiser myths

15th of May 2015 Article by Mike Sullivan
Debunking hand sanitiser myths

Mike Sullivan, managing director of hand hygiene products supplier GOJO Industries - Europe writes his latest hand hygiene blog for the ECJ website.

It's easy to pick up germs at work, on the train, or wherever you come into contact with other people, but it's also easy to protect yourself.

The fact is that good hand hygiene is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy. Hand washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is one of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid the risk of illness.

Some people are sceptical of using a hand sanitiser because they think it will dry their skin or even lead to antibiotic resistance. Here I debunk some common misconceptions to give you the facts about alcohol-based hand santisers.

Truth: All hand sanitisers ARE NOT equal
Alcohol-based and non-alcohol-based hand sanitisers are not the same; in fact, they are very different. The truth is that formulation matters. The active ingredient is important but the total formulation affects the antimicrobial efficacy. The product also has to deliver good skin care and not damage the skin. Importantly - it needs to feel good.

Truth: Alcohol-based hand sanitisers DO NOT dry your hands
There is a myth that the frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers will dry your skin. Again, it comes down to the formula. Our hand sanitiser is trusted by healthcare professionals as well as a wide range of other professions and has been developed to be used repeatedly without damaging the skin.

Truth: Hand sanitisers DO NOT cause antibiotic resistance
People are understandably cautious of using products that lead to antibiotic resistance. The truth is that oral antibiotics work in a completely different way to topical alcohol-based hand sanitisers. The alcohol kills a broad spectrum of germs quickly, destroying cell membranes and denaturing the proteins, and then evaporates so there is no trace on your skin that would allow germs to develop resistance.

Truth: All germs ARE NOT the same
There are actually two different types of germs - transient organisms and resident organisms. The resident organisms live in all layers of our skin. The transient organisms are acquired as you touch something, and they can be transmitted inside your body or to someone else, directly or via objects touched (such as hand rails), putting you and others at risk of illness.

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers reduce the transient organisms, or the illness-causing germs, on your hands. They also reduce the resident organisms, or what some people call the 'good germs', but those 'good germs' grow back quickly and remain as our normal microbiome.

The truth is that good hand hygiene, which includes using alcohol-based hand sanitisers, is a strong preventative measure against the spread of germs.

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