In childhood, each of us was taught to wash our hands beforefood intake. Most likely, such a rule might seem tedious and of little use to you, but its observance really helps protect our body from infections. In the event that soap and water are not available, various disinfectants can come to the rescue, whose basic principle is the disinfection of the skin due to the presence of alcohol in the composition. However, in what way do liquids and gels so necessary for modern man work?
How to sanitize your hands?
The health of a modern person who leads an activelifestyle in the metropolis is often threatened, if only because we don’t always succeed in cleansing our hands of various germs that surround us everywhere outside the door of the apartment. In order to reduce the risk of infectious diseases at a time when there is no soap and water on hand, various disinfectant fluids and hand gels were created. The need to use them is especially acute after visiting public transport or places with a large crowd of people, because even accidentally grabbing at some surface in such places, we risk catching bacteria invisible to the eye, including the coronavirus, which is already notorious for the whole world.
The main ingredient of all modernHand sanitizer is ethyl alcohol, but it is sometimes replaced with isopropyl alcohol or benzalkonium chloride. The main advantage of alcohols over other substances is their ability to interfere with the metabolic processes of cells, destroying protein chains and thereby ensuring the death of harmful microorganisms.
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In order to test the effectivenessdisinfectants, scientists conducted several case studies, reports the portal livescience.com. Their results showed that alcoholic hand antiseptics become effective only if the alcohol content in them exceeds 30%. It is also logical that along with an increase in the concentration of alcohol, the death rate of microorganisms also increases. But are antiseptic drugs able to replace full hand washing?
Be that as it may, despite the wide rangethe effects of alcoholic antiseptics for the hands, they still cannot provide 100% protection against microbes, although they are able in some way to replace handwashing. It turned out that antiseptics containing ethanol in high concentrations significantly more effectively eliminate pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus saprophyticus, even compared to a full hand wash. At the same time, some types of dangerous viruses still survive even at high concentrations of alcohol, and the inability of antiseptics to clean our hands of impurities and elementary dust significantly reduces their effectiveness. That is why in the struggle between antiseptic gels and washing, the good old way to disinfect hands with water and soap wins.
Are antiseptic gels harmful?
As mentioned above, antiseptic gels forhands effectively destroy pathogenic bacteria from the skin if the alcohol concentration in their composition exceeds 30%. However, from a school chemistry course you may be aware that alcohol has the ability to evaporate, reducing the effectiveness of the gels with each use. The question arises: is the prolonged and frequent exposure of alcohols harmful to human skin?
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Scientists were able to answer this question. Since alcohols are considered safe for external use and often do not cause any negative effect on the skin, the only negative point may be an increase in dryness or slight irritation of the skin. In any case, during the influenza and SARS season, a slight dryness of the skin of the hands may turn out to be the least of all evils: it is better to be healthy, but with slightly dried skin than sick and dirty hands.