Hand In Prevention

By: Lauren Evans Email
By: Lauren Evans Email

Pump, rub, repeat.

"It is amazing the powerful impact that has on the threat of disease," says Dr. Earl Reisdorff, an emergency physician at Ingham Regional Medical Center.

Hand sanitizer: your safety net against cold- and flu-causing bugs.

"Hand sanitizers really are quite superb," Reisdorff says.

Infectious disease experts suggest, these gels can kill up to 99.9 percent of bacteria.

That is, if you're using the right ones.
Yup... All hand sanitizers are not created equal.

We sat down with Dr. Reisdorff, who says not every sanitizer you get your hands on, may be killing germs like you think.

"If you have anything that has a lotion base, or a lot of scenting or perfuming in it, that may be cause for caution," he explains, because in order to blast away that bacteria, sanitizers need one key ingredient: alcohol. And a lot of it.

"Look for something with a high alcohol content," Reisdorff says. "You want to see something that's clearly over 60 percent, ideally over 65 percent."

It's not just what's in the sanitizer you're using. It's also how you're putting it on.

"You should use enough to cover every surface of your hand and fingers and it shouldn't dry before about 10 to 15 seconds," Reisdorff says.

If it evaporates in less than that? Your sanitizer either doesn't have enough alcohol, or you're not putting enough on. Regardless, you're still spreading germs.

And don't worry about using too much. Doctors say there's too much alcohol in hand sanitizer for bacteria to become resistant.

"No, you can't use them too much," says Reisdorff. "If we do anything improperly, we don't use them enough."

So, what do they use at Ingham Regional Medical Center?

"We use a hand sanitizer in some of the areas of the hospital that could be found at any pharmacy or typical community store," Reisdorff says.

That's right. Turns out, they use Purell. The exact same sanitizer the doctors and nurses use at the hospital, you can find at the supermarket.


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  • by Michael Location: Kansas City on Oct 30, 2009 at 09:40 AM
    While your story is correct, there is a safer alternative out there that no one ever talks about. Alcohol-Free hand sanitizers kill more germs, are much safer, and don't dry out your hands like alcohol. My favorite is http://www.cleanphirst.com/store/alcohol_free_foam_hand_sanitizer.asp
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