Friday, March 6th 2020, 5:22 pm - Here's what experts say about fighting germs during flu season.
Coronavirus fears have sparked shortages at grocery stores and pharmacies around the world.
Some of the most in-demand items include toilet paper -- which is in short supply in several countries -- and hand sanitizer. According to the Nielsen company, sales of the latter are up more than 70 per cent this year over last.
That's prompted several websites to publish recipes for DIY sanitizers. Experts say they can be effective, but only if the right concentration of ingredients is used.
That, unfortunately, can't be guaranteed. To be effective, a hand sanitizer must contain 60 per cent alcohol. That can be drying, so it's usually combined with an emolument like aloe vera.
If the mixture is off it could be ineffective or, in a worst-case scenario, damage the skin.
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GOOD OLD SOAP AND WATER
When it comes to fighting germs, experts recommend washing hands with soap and water.
While there is research suggesting hand sanitizer is an effective way to kill germs, that may not hold up in real-life situations.
That's because most people don't use enough sanitizer for it to be effective, or they accidentally wipe it off before it has dried.
And unlike soap, sanitizers may be less effective on dirty or greasy hands, according to the CDC.
Reduce your risk of exposure to respiratory diseases, like #COVID19: wash hands often w/ soap & water for at least 20 seconds. If soap & water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. https://t.co/qbIZmiuPwQ #SuperTuesday https://t.co/8cuxXGeF3ICDC on Twitter
ANTIBACTERIAL VS. REGULAR SOAP
When it comes to soap, there is no shortage of choice.
So what's best?
According to the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., regular soap works just fine.
In May 2019, the government body said the benefits of using antibacterial hand soap "haven't been proven" and made the move to ban triclosan and triclocarban, two common antibacterial ingredients, in consumer products.
The FDA argues manufactures haven't proven the ingredients are safe for long-term use, but triclosan is still used in Canadian products.
“Following simple handwashing practices is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness at home, at school and elsewhere,” Theresa M. Michele, MD, of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products, said in a statement.
“We can’t advise this enough. It’s simple, and it works.”