September 29, 2009

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 80, Issue 3

Hand sanitizers: useful?

Hand sanitizers: useful?

Hand sanitizers: useful?

Since the swine fl u broke out, hand sanitizers have been considered to be one of main weapons to fighting the pandemic. But, one question has been raised: Are people using hand sanitizer as an alternative to washing their hands with soap and water?

With such a scare about the general population, school districts, and many other potential areas for disease spread, have been putting hand sanitizer out for public use. The Chicago Tribune has reported that, in order for hand sanitizer to work effectively, at least 60 percent alcohol content is necessary. This means that any brand of sanitizer that has below 60 percent alcohol content will not work effi ciently. It is important before buying sanitizer to check that it has enough alcohol, so you're not wasting your money.

Healthline.com states that hands are the middlemen to transmitting the bacteria. People's hands can come in contact with a contaminated surface or object,.If a person is using weak sanitizer to clean their hands, they can still infect themselves when they touch their mouths.

Rebecca Wrobel, a senior at Niagara University stated, I hate hand sanitizers. Personally, I think nothing replaces a good, old hand scrubbing.

A study conducted by Healthline.com says, Over 90 percent of those questioned in a telephone survey said they washed up after using a public bathroom. But when the American Society of Microbiology and a trade association group observed people in public restrooms (in stadiums, train stations, etc.), they found that only 7 percent of men washed their hands. Women weren't perfect, but, at 90 percent, did better than the men. This Mars-Venus disparity extends to those with medical degrees. In one study, female physicians washed their hands 88 percent of the time after seeing a patient. Their male colleagues did so only 54 percent of the time.

Clean hands are always a big plus, but sometimes cleaning your hands too much can lead to more of a problem. The human hands were meant to be clean but not completely bacteria free. Some bacteria are meant to be on the skin, which is perfectly natural. Healthline. com calls it, resident fl ora. It takes 15 seconds to wash with soap and water. Sing Yankee Doddle or Happy Birthday but when adding another Yankee Doddle, the effectiveness of water and soap goes up to 99.9 percent. When washing, use cool or lukewarm water. Hot water will damage skin.

Tina, a sophomore at NU, says, It's gross when someone doesn't wash their hands properly. You don't know where their hands have been, and they can infect everyone around them.

Too much washing can worsen cuts, cause cracks and damage skin allowing bacteria to grow. Though,dry and damaged skin can also be bad, Healthline.com states that hands that are not dried properly will spread germs as well. It only takes 20 seconds to dry hands by paper towels or 45 second with air dryers.

There is no set amount of times you should wash your hands, but it is wise to wash your hands when you sneeze or cough in them and before eating and preparing food. Washing hands is a must when coming from the bathroom and when coming in contact with someone that is ill. Make sure to wash hands after visiting them.

Hand sanitizers kill bacteria, but why does soap and water work better? Soap and water do not kill bacteria. They remove bacteria from your skin. Running water removes the bacteria and soap increases it's effectiveness. Soap pulls more of the unwanted material off the skin and into the water. In the case where food and visible dirt is involved, alcohol based hand sanitizers are not as useful because the fats and proteins in food reduce the alcohol's germ killing power.

Protect yourself. Don't scrub too hard: you can damage the skin and harbor germs you want to kill. Keep you nails short, bacteria like areas under the fi ngernails. Longs nails are harder to keep clean.

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