National center for infection control professionals, healthcare experts, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and consumers focused on best practices in hand hygiene and hand sanitizer products

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Relief Effort; Hand Hygiene and Hand Sanitizers

There are literally thousands of Haiti-related relief solicitations for medical supplies, including hand sanitizer products. At first glance, the uninformed would be inspired to reach out and lend a hand accordingly. After all, introducing hand hygiene safety measures is part and parcel to mitigating the spread of illness.

What the vast majority fail to appreciate, including those that are soliciting those specific products, is that most hand sanitizer products are alcohol-based (Purell, GermX, etc), and the makers of those products specifically caution that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are ineffective when applying to hands that might be soiled or dirty. As a result, the manufacturers pointedly instruct to “wash hands before applying”. Don’t take my word for it; simply visit the manufacturer websites and review their “FAQ” section.

Equally important, it’s a scientific fact that alcohol-based hand sanitizers cause the skin to become dry and irritated; any infection control expert will acknowledge this is a “feature” that necessarily increases the risk of exposure to easily-transmitted pathogens(bacteria, virus, germs)

It would be truly amazing if you, or anyone else could find a single individual in Haiti right now whose hands are not dirty/soiled, or who have the luxury of being able to washing with soap and water prior to applying alcohol-based sanitizers.

Exactly why alcohol-free, rinse-free hand sanitizer products are endorsed by a continuously-growing number of health care and emergency care experts. The majority of these products are water-based, and most utilize the organic compound benzalkonium chloride—an FDA-recognized antiseptic that can be found in tens of dozens of consumer health care products.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good observations! Worth adding: alcohol-based hand sanitizer products typically cannot be transported via plane, while alcohol-free hand sanitizer products are entirely safe to transport quickly and efficiently.