Can Hand Sanitiser Really Prevent Coronavirus?
We all know that the golden standard for protecting against Coronavirus, as well as countless other bacterial and viral infections, is washing your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water. When you’re out and about and it isn’t possible for you to wash your hands, we’ve been told that hand sanitiser is a good alternative – but does hand sanitiser replace soap and water? What’s more, many of you have questioned why antibacterial products are being recommended as protection against a virus – and we understand your confusion. In this blog, we’ll run through the differences between bacteria and viruses, especially COVID-19, how you can protect yourself against infection and what hand sanitiser to use for COVID-19 protection.
Viruses vs Bacteria: What’s the Difference?
To understand why antibacterial products are recommended against a virus, it’s important to quickly look at the similarities and differences between bacteria and viruses. Both are pathogens which cause infections in our bodies. However, bacteria are living microorganisms, and can reproduce outside of the body given the right conditions. Viruses are much smaller than bacteria, and outside of the body they are ‘dormant’. They need to be inside an infected ‘host’ cell in order to reproduce and spread – but when they are, this growth will be rapid and systemic, spreading throughout the whole body, whereas bacterial infections tend to be localised. COVID-19 is a systemic disease caused by a viral infection.
How is COVID-19 Spread?
Most commonly, COVID-19 will be transmitted from an infected person to a susceptible person via moisture droplets which are found in the air we breathe out. There are varying timeframes suggesting how long COVID-19 can remain dormant – yet alive – outside the body, but it is thought to survive in air droplets for up to three hours, and on some surfaces for as long as three days.
At present, the best-known way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to prevent it from entering your system. It is for this reason that face masks, covering the nose and mouth, are of vital importance when it is likely you could be near an infected person. However, if you were to have the dormant COVID-19 virus on your hands, it is highly possible that you could infect yourself with Coronavirus up to three hours after being in the vicinity of an infected person.
The virus is so small that it can’t be seen by a regular light microscope, let alone a human eye, so regularly washing your hands, especially before eating, drinking and even touching your face, is the best way to ensure you don’t infect yourself unwittingly.
Do Antibacterial Products Work Against Viruses?
As we’ve mentioned above, bacteria and viruses work rather differently once inside your body, but both can be transmitted in a similar way. Antibacterial soaps are also known as antiseptic and antimicrobial. They work either by destroying the microorganism directly or suppressing its growth by destroying the environment in which it thrives.
Antibacterial soaps will contain chemicals such as triclosan or triclocarban, which are what directly kill bacteria. There are currently no known chemicals that can directly kill Coronavirus. However, liquid soaps will also contain alcohol, or sometimes chlorine, which are effective in dissolving the lipid (fatty) layer on the surface of your skin. This fatty environment is ideal for the COVID-19 virus to remain dormant until it can infect host cells in your system.
What Hand Sanitiser to Use for COVID-19 Protection
Hand sanitisers containing alcohol can also destroy this fatty later and remove the COVID-19 virus from your hands. They must contain at least 60% alcohol in order to be proven effective. This will dry out your skin; the fatty layer that microorganisms thrive in is what locks moisture in, so it’s important to use a hand sanitiser that contains a skin moisturising ingredient.
Our hospital-grade Zidiac hand sanitiser contains 70% ethanol alcohol plus aloe vera and skin moisturiser, so it will destroy any COVID-19 virus on your hands while being kind to skin. It’s important to use a good-size pump of sanitiser, and to work it well over the entire surface of your hands and wrists for it to be effective. Does hand sanitiser replace soap and water? No, it should not be considered a substitute for washing your hands in hot soapy water, especially if they are visibly dirty, but when you can't get to a sink, hand sanitiser is a fantastic way to protect yourself against Coronavirus.