File photo
File photo

What began as an infectious outbreak in China in December 2019, soon covered the entire world. In the absence of any specific cure for the COVID19, methods like washing hands frequently with soap and using hand sanitisers are recommended by WHO along with social distancing.

However, the selection of products that are both effective and safe for the skin is of the utmost importance.

There are two major types of skin reactions associated with hand hygiene products. The first and most common type includes symptoms that can vary from quite mild to debilitating, including dryness, irritation, itching, and even cracking and bleeding. The second type of skin reaction, allergic contact dermatitis, is rare and represents an allergy to some ingredient in a hand hygiene product.

Thus there are three primary strategies recommended in 'WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care' for minimizing hand hygiene-related irritation. These guidelines were released in reference to the health care workers.

  • It includes reducing skin irritation with a few precautions like avoiding washing hands regularly with soap and water immediately before or after using an alcohol-based sanitiser

  • Using moisturizing skincare products

  • Selecting less irritating products like use of alcohol-based hand rubs containing humectants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA, recommended washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands.

However, it said if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol can help one to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

In addition to this, when one is using hand sanitiser, the CDC recommends people to apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount) and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry.

CDC also warned that hand sanitisers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

While warning about alcohol poisoning due to accidental swallowing of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, it said that Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)-based hand sanitisers are safe when used as directed, but they can cause alcohol poisoning if a person swallows more than a couple of mouthfuls.

Free Press Journal