Health Check: should we be using alcohol-based hand sanitisers?

McLaws, M-L. The Conversation. Published online: 1 August 2016

Image source: madmargo – DeviantArt

They’re everywhere in hospitals, travellers’ backpacks and the aisles of pharmacies in winter, but do we really need to use alcohol-based hand sanitisers? And what should we make of the marketing claims they’re needed to kill germs?

Our research found we touch our face up to 23 times each hour and, of these, ten touches are to our eyes, nose or mouth. So while touching your face with contaminated hands you could be contaminating your hands or yourself with many infections, including influenza, the common cold and diarrhoeal infections. In fact, contaminated hands can spread most infectious diseases.

In developing countries, diarrhoeal diseases are still the biggest killer of children under five years old. The simplest way to prevent bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause deadly diarrhoeal disease is handwashing with clean water and soap.

In industrial nations like ours, diarrhoeal disease is mostly spread by eating contaminated food – usually from unwashed hands during preparation, serving or eating meals.

Read the full blog post here

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