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Useful Hand Hygiene & Hand Cleaning Information
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People are always asking us questions about what we do and the products we supply, so we are happy to provide useful hand hygiene and hand cleaning information here on our web site.
So here are a few frequently asked questions, and our considered responses.
Are instant hand sanitizers active against Swine Flu and MRSA?
While no hand sanitizer can prevent Swine Flu or MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), you can help protect yourself from both by practising good hand hygiene. Specifically, keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water, or using an ethanol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.
PRODUCT EXPIRY DATES– What theoretical or actual effect would the use of an expired product have on an individual who use it after the date has expired?
None. In fact, ethanol-based hand sanitizers (and hand soaps packed in sealed refill cartridges) continue to be efficacious for up to 60+ months (up to 5 + years) after manufacture. Therefore, we do not envisage any adverse effect from the products even after the initial printed expiry dates shown on the products.
How do infectious diseases spread?
Hands are one of the most frequent transmission routes for many types of infections, because they come into direct contact with the mouth, nose, conjunctiva of the eyes, etc. Therefore, practising proper hand hygiene is the easiest way to help reduce infections. Some infections spread through the air, which is why it is important to cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.
What is the best way to practice hand hygiene?
Use soap and water, especially when hands are visibly dirty. Wash hands with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds.
When soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer. Apply enough product to thoroughly wet hands, then rub hands together briskly until dry.
Are ethanol-based hand sanitizers suitable for children?
Yes, children in school may use ethanol-based hand rubs as an alternative to hand washing.
Do alcohol based hand sanitizers dry the skin?
Clinical studies have shown that a properly formulated ethanol-based hand sanitizer with emollients is actually better tolerated than soap-and-water hand washing – not drying and not irritating.
What types of germs do instant hand sanitizers kill?
Instant hand sanitizers kill common germs that may cause illness. Germ kill has been demonstrated in laboratory tests of common bacteria, viruses and fungi. However, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently allow makers of instant hand sanitizers to make claims against specific types of germs, due to concerns that consumers might erroneously believe that the particular illness caused by these germs will be completely prevented through use of the product. Because germs can be spread in a number of ways and one’s chances of actually developing an illness depends on a number of factors, no maker of these products can make that kind of guarantee. However, proper hand hygiene is one of the most important tools to prevent the spread of illness. This is why various organizations recommend hand-washing, or use of an alcohol-based instant hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
How do instant hand sanitizers fare in effectiveness against transient germs versus resident germs?
Germs exist all around us. Our bodies are covered with benign germs that help us stay healthy and are referred to as resident germs. In addition to these, we are also exposed to transient germs from contact with other people or objects. It is these germs that are often responsible for making you sick. Similar to washing your hands with soap and water, instant hand sanitizing products reduce some of your resident germs while killing the transient germs. However, in both cases, your body quickly regenerates your resident germs which are generally harmless and actually important for healthy skin.
Why is ethanol needed?
The ethanol content in Instant Hand Sanitizers safely and effectively reduces the level on hands of the most common germs that may cause illness. Unlike some other instant hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps, laboratory testing has never shown ethanol-based hand sanitizers lead to bacterial resistance.
How effective are ethanol-based hand sanitizers?
Since Instant Hand Sanitizers were introduced, they have helped millions of children and adults stay healthy and well, by reducing bacteria on the skin. Most Instant Hand Sanitizers kill 99.99 percent of the most common germs that may cause illness.
Do ethanol-based hand sanitizers lead to resistant bacteria?
Unlike the active ingredients in some other instant hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps, laboratory testing has never shown ethanol-based hand sanitizers to lead to bacterial resistance. There is no evidence that organisms adapt and become immune to the active ingredient. Many sources indicate that for organisms to become resistant, low levels of the chemical must remain on the hands for the organisms to adapt. The ethanol in instant hand sanitizers does not remain on the hands for long. Once your hands are rubbed dry after application, the ethanol will have evaporated completely. Instant hand sanitizers leave no harmful residue. An appropriate amount of emollient (skin conditioning agent) is left on the hands after use to leave your hands feeling soft and refreshed.
When is it especially important to practice good hand hygiene?
- After using the bathroom
- Before eating or drinking anything
- Before and after handling raw foods, fish, poultry, or eggs
- After using a public phone
- After riding public transportation
- In schools and day care centres
- After changing babies’ nappies
- When one is sick
- After shaking hands
- After sneezing or coughing
- After touching an ATM, elevator buttons, escalator and stair handrails, door handles, supermarket trolleys, etc.
What is the proper use of Instant Hand Sanitizer?
It is important to use instant hand sanitizing products properly and according to the instructions on the label: wet hands thoroughly with product, and briskly rub hands together until dry. Adults should always supervise children in the use of the product.
(Adapted with acknowledgement to Johnson & Johnson)