Should we wash our hands off?

Off late there have been discussions on whether the excessive usage of hand sanitiser adversely affects children's immunity. Is there truth to this?

In mid 1800, it was noted by Ignal Sommeweiss in Vienna that death rates after delivery came down from 17% to 3 %, merely by insisting that doctors wash their hands with chlorinated lime solution , before attending to next patient. (Source:WHO Guidelines). We have moved on from then, to hand sanitisers. These are basically alcohol based rub and have the advantage of easy access , portability, and excellent outcomes in terms of disease prevention.

Off late there have been discussions on whether the excessive usage of hand sanitiser adversely affects children’s immunity. There has been a report in Canadian Medical association Journal that it increases the risk of Norovirus infecttion that causes gastro entritis. But there are some other studies that counter it.

How to use Sanitisers

Squirt the hand sanitizer into palm of your right hand. Start rubbing your hands together gently. Finish up: Don’t dry your hands on a towel, it will be better to let them air dry.

Let us look at what these sanitisers are, and how are they different from normal soaps and water hand wash. One of the most common reason for spread of infection is through moist hands, since moisture is a good medium for multiplication of germs. On the other hand, since most of the sanitisers are alcohol based, it absorbs the moisture. In addition it also has the advantage of ease of carrying and storing.

Therefore it has found favour with those who travel a lot. It is especially useful when there is outbreak of Flu. Frequent usage can cut down the risk. The infection in this case can spread not only through persons but also through inanimate objects like seats, clothes and so on.

Another study notes that disinfecting the surfaces and usage of hand sanitiser did bring down students falling sick due to gastroentritis in elementary school students in America.

However, hand sanitisers should not be used as substitutes for hand washing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Under the scorching sun: Heat stress takes a toll on healthcare workers in Chennai

Despite experiencing heat-related health issues and high workloads, nurses in Chennai receive no support to brave extreme heat conditions.

On March 3rd, Primary Health Centres (PHC) in Chennai conducted the annual Pulse Polio Immunization campaign for children between the age group of 0-5 years. To ensure no child is missed, the Urban Health Nurses (UHN) made door-to-door visits on March 4 to administer polio drops.  While the initiative garnered praise from all quarters, the tireless efforts of health nurses who walked kilometres under the scorching sun, went unnoticed. On March 4, at 2.30 pm, Meenambakkam and Nungambakkam weather stations in Chennai recorded the maximum temperature of 32.2 degrees C and 31.4 degrees C. However, as the humidity levels were…

Similar Story

Delayed upgradation of hospitals in Mumbai’s suburbs; patients rely on private care

Despite having allocated funds to upgrade suburban civic hospitals, BMC has not been able to redevelop them on time.

When Sangeeta Kharat noticed a lump near her neck, she sought treatment at MT Agarwal Municipal Hospital, Mulund, near her residence. Doctors diagnosed her with thyroid nodules, an abnormal growth of cells on the thyroid gland, and referred her to Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Corporation Hospital at Sion for further treatment. Sangeeta's son, Rajan, initially opted for treatment at Sion Hospital. However, due to the distance and frequency of trips with his job, they decided to switch to a nearby private hospital despite higher costs. Rajan said, " If the MT Agarwal super-speciality hospital had been available, we wouldn't have needed…