Staying protected from the dreaded coronavirus pandemic is everyone’s topmost priority right now.
The FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) is working closely with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), manufacturers of medical products and international partners to address the outbreak.
But, you can forget about a vaccine for the virus until 2021.
So, what can you do till then to keep yourself and loved ones safe?
- Stay home – as much as you can!
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer
- Wear a mask or get a PPE kit for when you have to step out of your home
- Follow the symptoms of COVID-19 and isolate yourself if you realize that you have any of the symptoms. Keep yourself updated by reading the coronavirus knowledge hub.
Now, it is true that hand sanitizers are not a new concept, but Indians, in particular,did not use them so much as they’re doing it now. This has resulted in a lot of misinformation regarding the use of hand sanitizers.
For starters, not all hand sanitizers are created equal. If the sanitizer you are using is not an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with the alcohol content being more than 60%, it is not helping you at all. You are just wasting your money and not protecting yourself from COVID-19 or from any bacteria and virus for that matter.
So, given that using hand sanitizer is a relatively new thing and something that everyone has to get used to now because we are officially in the ‘new normal’ stage, here are the answers to the most common questions. Go through them and be prepared.
Q) Are all types of hand sanitizers effective against the coronavirus?
A) No, they’re not.
Only alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective against COVID-19. According to the CDC, sanitizers containing 60% to 95%of alcohol is recommended. Sanitizers with a lower alcohol content or no alcohol at all are not effective in killing germs, especially one as potent as the coronavirus.
Q) Is hand sanitizer an alternative to washing hands with soap and water?
A) No, it is not an alternative.
CDC says that the best way to prevent the spread of germs and infections is by washing hands with water and soap. Hands must be washed for a minimum of twenty seconds, especially before eating, after going to the bathroom, and after sneezing, coughing or blowing one’s nose.
But, wherever soap and water are not available, the next best option is using a hand sanitizer. For instance, when you are out to buy groceries, going on a drive or traveling in public transport. Also, in a lot of places in India and abroad, water scarcity is a reality. In such situations, hand sanitizers are the best option.
Q) Can I make hand sanitizers at home?
A) FDA recommends that you do not make your own hand sanitizer at home. If you make it incorrectly, the hand sanitizer will be ineffective. It will give you a false sense of being protected from germs when in reality, you’re not.
Moreover, there have been a lot of cases where DIY hand sanitizers have gone awry and caused skin burns.
So, don’t take that risk.
Q) What measures have been taken by the FDA to improve the supply of hand sanitizers?
A) Currently, the world is under a public health emergency. To that end, the FDA has developed guidelines to be followed by pharmacies and manufacturers to produce more hand sanitizers.
Also, many temporary manufacturers have been allowed to produce alcohol-based hand sanitizers, provided they meet the standards of the FDA.
Initially, there was a gap between demand and supply where hand sanitizers are concerned. But, today, you will easily get it as the manufacturing of sanitizers have been amped up.
Q) Is adding alcohol to any non-alcohol hand sanitizer work the same way as an alcohol-based sanitizer?
A) No. Simply adding alcohol to any non-alcohol sanitizer is not going to be an effective product.
Q) Are there any warnings that one must be aware of?
A) Yes, there are a few things that you need to be aware of.
- Always remember to read the label before purchasing and using hand sanitizer. Read the instructions carefully. All sanitizers do not contain the same amount of alcohol. So, READ!
- You need to store sanitizer in a place that is away from the direct rays of the sun.
- Keep the sanitizer away from children’s reach. While it is not harmful for children to use sanitizer, it can quickly become harmful when they decide to ingest it. This can result in alcohol poisoning (even in adults!) In that case, IMMEDIATELY call your doctor!
- Beware of methanol-based sanitizers. The FDA warns that methanol contamination can lead to vomiting, headache, nausea, seizures or even permanent damage to the nervous system. Remember that sanitizers are made of ETHANOL (or ethyl alcohol) and not METHANOL. Also, be aware of other such cheap variants.
Q) How to use hand sanitizer correctly?
A) The best times to use hand sanitizer is when you have shaken hands, riding public transportation, have touched a grocery cart or touched an animal. The correct usage of a sanitizer is:
- Pour the recommended amount on the palm of your hand (read the directions given by the manufacturer on the label)
- Rubs your hands together and make sure to cover your entire hand including in between your fingers
- Stop rubbing the sanitizer only when your skin feels dry
Q) When not to use hand sanitizer?
A) You should not use hand sanitizer, but look for soap and water when:
- Your hands are very greasy and the dirt is visible
- When there is the availability of soap and water
- Your hands are covered in chemicals
As of 12th July 2020, the total number of coronavirus cases worldwide is 12.5 million. Use hand sanitizer properly. Do your bit in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.