Decipher Between Hand Sanitizer Fact And Fiction
Contributed by Staples Business Advantage
To everyone who swears by the bottle of hand sanitizer on your desk, you’ll want to pay attention. A recent research study by Science Translational Medicine found that in hospitals, bacteria is becoming increasingly tolerant to the alcohols used in hand sanitizers.
The study, which examined two Australian hospitals over the course of almost a decade, found that strains of E. faecium developed an improved ability to withstand alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Over the same period of time, the hospitals started increasing the use of these hand sanitizers to better stop the spread of germs.
It is important to note that this increased tolerance is not the same as being resistant – rather bacteria was able to survive for longer periods of time after coming into contact with the alcohol.
This news is alarming, not just to healthcare facilities, but to any organization or operation that relies on hand sanitizers to help rid people’s hands of germs. However, before facilities and office managers dump the hand sanitizers, they should consider a recent Q&A conducted with Riley Doherty, Area Vice President at Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division at Staples, Inc. Doherty sheds light on some of the burning questions people have about the long-trusted bacteria-killing product.
Q: How effective is hand sanitizer at killing all germs?
Doherty: Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. Always use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Read all instructions to make sure you are using the proper amount and don’t use hand sanitizer as a substitute for handwashing.
Q: Don’t germs just build up a resistance to hand sanitizer over time?
Doherty: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no chance for the germs to adapt or develop resistance to an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, even with frequent use. Ethyl alcohol, found in well-known hand sanitizers, quickly terminates the cell membranes and dissolves cell proteins. Additionally, according to the CDC, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers does not cause antibiotic resistance.
Q: Won’t the alcohol in the sanitizer dry out hands?
Doherty: There is a misperception that the frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers will dry out your skin on your hands. The truth is that formulation matters. You will want to pick a hand sanitizer that is formulated to not strip natural lipids away from your hands.
Q: Is there a particular type of hand sanitizer my workplace should be using?
Doherty: Use sanitizers that contain alcohol, rather than an anti-bacterial that could contain triclosan. The FDA is still studying this and fear it could breed antibiotic resistance, ruining the natural flora on the skin. The FDA is conducting ongoing studies.
All in all, it is okay to keep stocking your workplaces with the right type of hand sanitizer – it is still helping in the fight against germs. But let’s all agree to keep washing our hands too — our coworkers will thank us.
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