Why Does Hand Washing Beat Hand Sanitizer Hands Down?
This episode is part of the miniseries. We're doing on some health and safety topics surrounding the novel type of coronavirus identified in two thousand nineteen which causes what is therefore being called covert nineteen because everything is a little less scary when you understand it better so you're probably aware that with the novel. Virus outbreak hand sanitizer has gotten very hard to find however soap seems to still be in good supply. This is a little counter intuitive given that to keep yourself safe from this virus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend handwashing. I and using hand sanitizer only as a backup. If you don't have access to running water we spoke with Dr Greg Poland a representative for the Infectious Diseases site of America and professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. He said proper hand washing is the safest most efficacious least expensive and readily available method to prevent disease. So why would plain old soap and water be more effective against germs than alcohol based hand sanitizer? Poland explained when you're physically washing your hands. You're doing three things. You're removing visible dirt and Mucus. You're using a soap that decreases surface tension. And you're physically by friction loosening removing and washing away. Whatever is on your hand. This includes germs that you can't see and is perhaps particularly effective at stopping the spread of some germs like Corona viruses because the outer casing of these germs is made up of Lipids. Which are fats just as soap can wedge itself down between particles of Greece on a dirty pan and help break it up? Molecules of soap can elbow into that lipid envelope around a microbe and break it apart. Thus rendering the microbe unable to attack and infect cells studies have shown that soap and water is more effective than hand sanitizer it removing certain viruses and bacteria that attack the intestines and respiratory tract corona viruses included and handwashing is especially effective for very dirty hands. Such as those. You get from gardening playing sports or wiping the runny nose with the back of your hand. Poland said if your hands are visibly soiled hand sanitizer can't get all the skins surfaces and if your hands have mucus on them hand sanitizer cannot penetrate remember. If you have the flu. For example influenza viruses will be present in your mucus. Several studies have shown that handwashing got rid of the flu virus from hands. Much faster than hand. Sanitizer did okay. So we've gone over why handwashing trump's hand sanitizing but in order for handwashing to work. You have to do it properly. You've probably seen a billion memes this week about how to do it but let's review the steps for everyone's sake. There are a whole bunch of times that people should be washing their hands but probably the most important are before you prepare or eat food after using the bathroom. And before you touch your face. Here's the protocol according to the CDC. I WHAT HANDS CLEAN RUNNING? Water warm or cold will do then turn off the tap and apply soap lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Any soap will work. It doesn't have to be antibacterial and remember antibacterial. Soap will help. Keep you safer from viruses than regular soap. Because they're different critters as you lather and rub make sure to get all the parts of your hands. The backs palms between the fingers and under fingernails. Start at your fingertips and work backward. Rub Your hands for at least twenty seconds. You Can Hummer Sing. Happy Birthday twice or some other diddy. If counting doesn't do it for you. The five seconds that most people take to wash their hands doesn't get as many microbes afterwards. Rinse your hands. Well under running water and dry them using a clean towel or with an air dryer. If you're in a public restroom it helps to use a paper towel to turn the faucet off and to open the bathroom door. A lot of publicity has gone into educating people that they're not washing for long enough but many are also missing the mark by not thoroughly rubbing all parts of the hand Polin said think of how we viruses bacteria etc into our body. It's with the area of the hand that nobody washes properly. That is the fingertips people. Wash the palm. They washed the back of their hands. They washed the bottom third of the fingers. But have you ever seen someone wash fingernails or tips so the next time you're washing up? Make a point to pay extra attention to these oft neglected appendages. There will be times though when hand? Sanitizer just makes more sense than handwashing. Let's say you were in the bathroom at your office. Followed all the steps outlined above. So now you have perfectly clean hands but wait. You need to open the door that leads from the hallway where the bathroom is back to your office. Dozens of people opening and closing that door all day. Applying dollop of hand sanitizer might be easier than washing your hands again. So here's the correct way to do that. I make sure you're applying enough about a quarter to a half dollar sized amount of him. Sanitizer is necessary. Rub It all the parts of your hand starting from the fingertips and working your way. Back to disinfect. And don't forget in between your fingers. Polin said keep doing that until it's dry that way you know you've had an exposure time for that disinfectant to kill resist the urge to wipe your hands on a paper towel or your pants to speed up the drying process since hand sanitizer and washing can be very drying. You might want to keep some hand lotion or cream nearby to apply once your hands are dry and just one more thing. Dr Poland has fielded questions from people who asked about using disinfecting wipes like those made by clorox or Lysol on their skin. As an added layer of protection he strongly advises people against this quote. Do not wipe your face clorox wipes do not clean your nose with it and do not suck on it. It DOES NOT HELP. It will harm you and it hurts. It offers no benefit