Hand hygiene has become one of the hottest topics since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reason is simple, you can easily become infected or pass on COVID-19 because of dirty hands. It is therefore essential to adopt the appropriate techniques to perform hand hygiene. This can mean washing your hands with soap and water with the best technique, or using sanitizer.
Whilst washing your hands with soap and running water should be favoured, you might find yourself in situations where you do not have access to running water and need to perform hand hygiene. This is when hand sanitizer comes in…handy.
Concierge Doctors has compiled a list of tips to help you sanitize as best as possible.
When to Sanitize
Whenever you touch anything and need to touch your face. Whenever you are going to eat anything. Items’ surfaces can become contaminated with numerous pathogenic agents, including coronavirus. You want to avoid your hands becoming carriers of those pathogens. In the case of coronavirus, you want to avoid getting it on your hands so that the virus does not get close to your eyes, nose and mouth in the eventuality you touch your face.
Which happens…all the time. A 2015 study involving 26 medical students at the University of New South Wales found that on average the students touched their faces a whooping 23 times per hour.
You got it: just sanitize your hands as often as you can! And remember, sanitizing your hands should not replace washing your hands with running water and soap.
Below is a must-watch video about how cross-contamination can happen if you fail to perform proper hand hygiene.
What to Use
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with an alcohol content of more than 60% deactivate germs. Anything lower than that will not kill germs and instead will merely slow down their growth.
When Not to use Sanitizers
Sanitizers will be of limited efficacy in case there is significant amounts of soil on your hands. If you find yourself in a situation where you have significant soil on your hands, make sure to not touch your face under any circumstances, and try to locate soap and running water at your earliest.
How to Sanitize your Hands
It is essential you sanitize the entirety of your hands. You can follow the reference handwashing protocol (7 to 8 steps), or you can simply make a conscious effort to rub in sanitizer over the entirety of your hands (palms, backs, fingers, wrists). This has been found to be faster and equally as effective as following the handwashing protocol.
The most important variable, assuming you are applying either of the techniques mentioned above, is to use enough hand sanitizer so that it does not dry out before you have covered all areas.
You should make sure to fully rub in the hand sanitizer until it is dry. In no case should you wipe excess hand sanitizer as this could contaminate your hands.
Below is a video showing you the main steps to follow if you want to follow the reference handwashing protocol.
The ultimate “extra step”
Ready to have the best handwashing technique you could possibly have thought of? Below is a must-watch video taking you through WHO’s handwashing protocol step by step, and showing you which areas would have been missed if not for following this protocol. You will notice the video highlights one zone that is left untouched by WHO’s protocol. The video adds one final step to the handwashing protocol, which would come after the existing no.7 step in the WHO infographic. That extra step makes sure we have not missed the area around the wrists and sides of the hands.
Just as a reminder – below is a diagram that shows the most frequently missed parts of the hand when incorrect hand washing technique is not adopted. In our eyes, those hands are still pretty contagious…
Think you might be sick and unsure what to do? Have some concerns regarding the current situation and would like to talk about it with medical professionals? Book in for a telehealth consult in less than a minute and speak with a qualified Australian doctor who might be able to answer all your questions.