Hand sanitiser: How much alcohol does hand sanitiser need to kill coronavirus?

Dr Steve Tapril discusses making hand sanitiser at home

The spike in daily coronavirus cases seems to be dropping ever so slightly, but just 10 days ago there were more than 68,000 new cases in 24 hours. While the lockdown restrictions mean Brits can’t go out except for essentials and exercise, the virus will use these opportunities to spread from person to person. Washing your hands and using hand sanitiser while out and about seems to be an effective way of dealing with this, but perhaps we’ve all become a little sloppy in how frequently we do so. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Hannah Davies to find out how to keep your hands clean in lockdown… should you be using hand sanitiser at home?

New hand sanitiser companies are saturating the market, with consumers and businesses all desperately trying to protect the nation against Covid-19.

The Government changed its guidelines on what alcohols producers can use to make hand sanitisers, but now 10 cross-party Parliamentarians have written to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, calling for an urgent review of guidelines on hand sanitisers.

The existing guidelines focus exclusively on alcohol-based products and don’t provide a way for customers to tell if a product is effective or not – this can be confusing for the 17 percent of the population with skin conditions.

There is also no public standard for effectiveness, allowing some operators to sell substandard or even dangerous hand sanitisers.

So which hand sanitisers should you be using?

The cross-party group have called for the development of a UK conformity mark which would subject all hand sanitisers to mandatory independent lab tests before they distributed to consumers, but for the time being it’s best to follow the advice of a doctor.

Dr Hannah Davies has explained to Express.co.uk exactly which hand sanitisers you should be using, and how to know if the one you already have is effective enough.

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How much alcohol should be in a hand sanitiser?

The most important thing to look at when buying a new hand sanitiser is its alcohol content.

Dr Davies said you need at least 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol for your bottle to be effective.

These amounts are “necessary to effectively deactivate viruses similar to SARS-Cov2.”

Let’s Sanitise and Hand Haze both use 75 percent alcohol in their sanitisers and these are available in a range of lovely fragrances.

Don’t be stingy when it comes to applying your hand sanitiser.

According to Dr Davies, you’ll need to use approximately 2.5 to 3ml of liquid, which equates to about two pumps from a dispenser.

Rub it all over the palms or on the surface you think is contaminated for at least 25 to 30 seconds.

That’s right, letting a tiny drop dissolve into your palm will not protect you from any germs including coronavirus!

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When should you use hand sanitiser?

Always bring your hand sanitiser out with you and use it whenever you think it is necessary.

Dr Davies said you should use your hand sanitiser every time you could potentially be contaminated, for example after touching a door handle.

You should also use it before any activity which may allow the virus into the body such as before mealtime.

Should you use hand sanitiser at home?

You don’t need to use hand sanitiser at home because you should use soap and water instead.

Dr Davies explained: “Soap and water are preferred because it reduces the amount of all types of germs and chemicals on the hands.

“Furthermore, it more effectively reduces the burden on soiled/greasy dirty hands.

“Compared with soap, hand sanitisers do not eliminate all germs, including C.difficle (the common bug that causes diarrhoea)!”

On top of that, most of us don’t use hand sanitiser enough for it to be effective and they don’t work well in combination with extremely dirty or contaminated hands.

Using hand sanitiser at home when it is not necessary is a waste of resources. Hand sanitisers are effective in healthcare settings, so save them for the NHS!

Dr Hannah said: “In a healthcare setting, hand sanitisers have an effective role to play because they are easily accessible, take less time to use, and users frequently come into contact with germs.”

How do you prevent dry hands?

We all have dry and cracked hands at the moment, but Dr Davies has revealed how to prevent this unsightly and dangerous problem.

She said: “Soap and water also remove your own fatty acids from the skin leaving hands very dry, and resulting in cracked skin, which can be a potential entry point for other bugs!”

“You can prevent this from happening by using a hypoallergenic (rather than perfumed/fragranced) emollient such as E45, Aveeno, Cetraben, and using after every hand wash.”

Dr Davies recommends using hand creams containing humectants, which is the name for substances which attract lots of water, fats and oils.

She said: “Humectants enhance skin moisture and improve the skin barrier function, which prevents cracked dry skin.

“Be wary of paraffin-based emollients as they are flammable and avoid fragranced products which can be more likely to cause dermatitis and be more drying.”

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