Tag Archives: hand hygiene

Hand Sanitizer 101

What’s the best way to keep from getting sick and making others sick? Washing your hands! If soap and water aren’t handy, you may reach for the next-best thing: hand sanitizer. These sanitizers contain active ingredients such as ethyl alcohol, ethanol or isopropanol designed to conquer those hard-to-kill bacteria and viruses that love to make you cough and sneeze. 

Goodbye to Germs

When you squirt that hand sanitizer on your hands, rub vigorously. The friction will help get in the nooks and crannies of your hands. In these brief moments, the alcohol is attacking the bacteria’s outer casing or cell membrane. The bacteria cannot survive without its supportive walls, meaning you have cleaner, more germ-free hands. 

Tips for Use

A catch exists for alcohol-based hand sanitizers: The sanitizers must contain enough alcohol to make an impact. Look for a hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol. Otherwise, your hand sanitizer is a dud in terms of keeping your hands clean. To make matters worse, using a low-percentage hand sanitizer spreads germs around your hand, making them easier to spread, according to The New York Times. 

You can tell you are using enough hand sanitizer by how fast the sanitizer evaporates. Once you apply the sanitizer to your hands, the product should take at least 15 seconds to evaporate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Versus Handwashing

While effective, using hand sanitizers isn’t always the answer. Washing with soap and water is your best bet when your hands are visibly soiled. Hand sanitizers stop germs, but they don’t remove dirt, blood or stool. They also do not kill certain bacteria types, such as E.coli, a common bacteria present in raw or uncooked foods. When you’re cooking or have just gone to the bathroom, go with washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds over using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. 

Hand sanitizers do have an advantage over handwashing in that they are easier to access. You may not have a sink handy, but you can keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your desk, car, pocket or purse. This convenience appeals to healthcare workers and others who are always pressed to save time.

Secondly, frequent warm water and soap usage can dry out and crack your hands. This effect attracts bacteria to your hands. Hand sanitizer manufacturers can incorporate moisturizers to reduce cracking while keeping your hands clean. 

How To See If Your Hands Have Been Properly Sanitized

GBX 1-2-3

One great way to see if you have applied hand sanitizer properly is by using GlitterBug® Gel. This product is formulated to be very similar to popular hand sanitizers but it has a special ingredient that glows when illuminated by black light. Apply the GlitterBug Gel and rub it in as if it were regular hand sanitizer. Then examine your hands under black light from the Brevis GlowBarLED lamp. The GBX molded disclosure center is ideal for viewing the results because it shields out extraneous or ambient light thus enhancing perception. After using the GlitterBug Gel you should see the entirety of your hands glowing. Any dark areas that do not glow are areas that may not have been safely sanitized. Visual feedback to help improve technique and therefore safety.

Best teaching products for hand sanitizer use

You may find these products helpful in your mission to improve hand hygiene:
GBX Disclosure Center with Gel
GlowBar LED Lamp
GlitterBug Gel

The Science of Handwashing

We all know that keeping hands clean helps keep us from getting sick, but how does handwashing actually work?  Can we really get rid of all the germs on our hands?  Is there a single best technique for handwashing?  Do antibacterial soaps really work?  Scientists have studied these questions, and some of the answers may be surprising.

What exactly are germs?  Can handwashing really get rid of them?

Microbes, microscopic organisms, are everywhere, including on human skin.  Many of the microbes on hands are single-celled bacteria.  Many of the bacteria are always there, living harmless and unnoticed; these are called resident bacteria.  Other bacteria are picked up from the environment; these are called transient bacteria.  Transients can persist on skin for days to months, but can’t live there forever.  They may include pathogens — disease causing organisms, or germs.

Handwashing can never completely remove resident bacteria; there may be 10,000 or more individual bacteria on each hand, and they are adept at sticking to skin and slithering down between the cracks in skin cells to avoid removal.  Transient bacteria are present in fewer numbers and are not adapted to living on skin surfaces; they can be completely removed by handwashing.  Therefore, the purpose of handwashing is not to make hands sterile; it is to get rid of any potential pathogens that have hitched a ride.  However, handwashing technique can vary, and as we will see, some variables are more important than others in making sure pathogens have been removed.     

Does it matter if the water is hot or cold?

Although germs aren’t likely to be destroyed by water temperatures we can tolerate, health experts have long recommended washing hands with warm or hot water.  The reason is that warmer water should help dissolve oils and other substances coating skin, helping to wash away germs with them.  Unfortunately, recent studies comparing the numbers of bacteria on hands washed with cold, warm, and hot water have shown no difference in the results — just as many bacteria remain no matter what water temperature is used.  Since using hot water uses more energy and might irritate the skin if handwashing is frequent, cold water might be a better option.

What does soap actually do?

In general, soap doesn’t kill germs.  In fact, populations of bacteria have been found thriving in liquid soap dispensers in public restrooms.  Instead, the purpose of soap is to help remove contaminants and bacteria from the skin surface.  There is an extra benefit as well; some studies have examined how thoroughly volunteers washed their hands with and without soap; the volunteers using soap did a much more thorough job.  Using water alone will reduce the number of germs on hands, but using soap is more effective.  

Should antibacterial soap be used?  What about other sanitizers?

Although antibacterial soap is everywhere, there is no scientific evidence that it is any better at removing germs from hands than regular soap.  There is also concern that triclosan, a common ingredient in antibacterial soap, could cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.

For how long should hands be washed?

The length of handwashing depends on the circumstances; for example, very dirty hands or hands exposed to more pathogens need a longer period.  In general, studies show that 20-30 seconds of handwashing is all it takes to remove most germs.  To help time handwashing, you can hum the “Happy Birthday” song two times – this should take approximately 20 seconds.

Which areas get missed?

Worldwide, the same areas are missed again and again when hands are washed.  Fingertips, cuticles, between the fingers, and the back of the hand, especially the thumb and ring finger, are areas which get the least attention; therefore, these are the areas where most germs remain.

GlitterBug is designed to disclose where hand washing can improve.

Research-based handwashing technique

In order for handwashing to work, proper technique is a must.  Begin handwashing by wetting hands with warm or cool water.  Apply soap and lather hands; remember commonly-missed areas such as around the nails, between the fingers, and the backs of the hands.  Scrub hands together for at least 20 seconds (or two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song) before thoroughly rinsing and drying.

As long as the proper technique is used, handwashing is an excellent way to reduce or eliminate transient bacteria, including disease-causing pathogens.  

What Everyone Should Know about Hand Sanitizers

Hand sanitizers have been a popular commodity since the emergence of Covid-19 in the Spring of 2020. There was even a shortage for a while, as everyone rushed to stores to stock up. As sales continue to rise consumers should be aware of the ingredients of the product and the marketing techniques that manufacturers use to increase sales.

Alcohol Content

According to the FDA, in order to be effective, hand sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol. The label may list this as ethanol, ethyl alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol. If the label does not show the percentage of alcohol contained in the product, do not buy it. 

Some types of alcohol are extremely dangerous, and it is doubtful that a manufacturer would list these on the label if they are present, but the FDA has found contamination with methyl alcohol or 1-propanol in some hand sanitizers manufactured in Mexico and sold in the U.S. Methyl alcohol, or wood alcohol as it is sometimes called, is used to make antifreeze. 1-propanol is an ingredient of industrial solvents.

False Claims

Claims that hand sanitizers can prevent Covid-19, influenza or other diseases are misleading. Any product making these claims should be avoided. Hand sanitizers, when used properly, can only kill germs that are on your hands, and only lasts until you touch something else.

Misleading Marketing Practices

Some hand sanitizers on the market are scented with appetizing smells such as chocolate or strawberries. If a child smells these, he or she may think they are good to drink. Hand sanitizers packaged in containers that resemble beverage cans, water bottles or food pouches can also mislead young children into thinking that the contents are edible food products.

There have been cases where a person has mistakenly believed that a product that contains alcohol is OK to drink. Since alcoholic beverages contain alcohol, why not drink Nyquil, extract of Vanilla, mouth wash, or hand sanitizer and get a similar “buzz”?  Ingesting any of these products could produce headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, irregular heart rate, seizures and if a very large quantity is consumed, possibly coma or death could result. 

Since hand sanitizers seem to be everywhere these days it is important to understand what the ingredients are. Make sure the contents are clearly labeled and contain a minimum of 60% alcohol. Ignore claims made on labels that the hand sanitizer you are buying will prevent influenza, Covid-19 or anything else. It does not. Never ingest hand sanitizer. It is not safe for human consumption. Small children should be supervised when using hand sanitizers. When shopping for hand sanitizers, avoid packaging that could be mistaken for food products. Steer clear of those with appetizing scents. 

Teach people how to apply hand sanitizer correctly with Glitterbug Gel.

Dead Mosquitoes and Live Lice, Part 2

Continued from “Dead Mosquitoes and Live Lice, Part 1

So what about the live lice? When I went into the US Public Health Service in 1957, it was to fulfill my draft obligation after student deferments. Recall that the Korean War was from 1950 to 1953. Also that during WW II, DDT dusting powder was widely used to kill lice, especially in conquered civilian populations, to prevent the spread of typhus. But by the Korean War some lice had sneer at DDT and so something else was needed. Enter Dr. Wayland J Hayes and yours truly. Dr Hayes arranged for prisoner volunteers at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, FL to be recruited to test the toxicity of malathion formulated as a dusting powder substitute for DDT. Malathion is an organophosphorus compound unrelated to DDT and was thought to have similar effectiveness and human toxicity.

Dr Hayes was the lead researcher and I was the lackey who did the cholinesterase analyses, etc. in the prison. (I have always enjoyed watching the expressions on people’s faces when I say I was in prison once.) The prisoners were told the possible adverse effects of the program and were given “good time” (reduced sentences) for participation. (After this one prisoner opted out but was later found to be consuming his own brew made with a smuggled, homemade still. Was that less toxic?)

The results were published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, (1960, vol 22, page 503-514) and on review I was impressed by one observation: “Although one of us (J.G.S.) had received, without injury, a 30-hour application of 10% malathion powder in preparation for the study of volunteers, . . . .” My small contribution to the advancement of science. Well, in retrospect I have to say that it was safer than dodging bullets in the Vietnam War, which was waging at that time.

Human infestation with lice is uncommon in this country and typhus is really rare. We have a lot to be thankful for in this country in spite of the vicissitudes of politics and the stock market. But there are still enough problems with antibiotic resistance and the lack of proper hand hygiene, etc. Maybe our watchwords should be Thankfulness, Vigilance, and Diligence. “May the Force be with you!”


Visit Brevis.com

Can the holidays make you sick?

What makes us get sick more often during the holiday season?

Many theories have been postulated and studied over the years and many factors are blamed for being virus enablers. Closer proximity of hosts (us) within closed spaces makes transmission easier due to the shared air we breathe while indoors and the common surfaces we touch as people share confined areas. Further, foods are presented and ingested in areas with higher germ populations due to the foregoing.

Other theories suggest that inactivity and depression generally increases with the cold and gloomy weather and this coupled with decreased exposure to the sun may tend to inhibit our immune systems.

We suspect that all of these factors and more contribute to the seasonal spike in illnesses. But, there are some commons sense actions that can help reduce your chances of being the next holiday (infection) host. The most effective way to reduce your risks of seasonal sickness is to wash your hands often, especially after shaking hands, touching surfaces in common areas such as handrails and countertops and especially before eating.

In the spirit of holiday cheer (and microbial fear) check out these funny new flu and handwashing posters meant to remind with mirth and good cheer.

Healthy holidays to all.


New Flu & Handwashing Posters

 

Image of flu close up by cdc.gov.

Government Study Says You’re Washing Your Hands the Wrong Way

…Which Is Gross and You Should Fix It

Hey, did you wash your hands recently? Well, you probably did it wrong. CNN pointed out a recent government study found that 97 percent of the time, people fail to properly wash their hands—a problem that can lead to all sorts of unnecessary illnesses being spread.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, people are falling short of meeting the standards for acceptable handwashing set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bar to make sure your hands are sufficiently clean requires you to wash and scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds.

The study looked at 363 people in six kitchen test facilities located in the Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina and in the town of Smithfield, North Carolina. What it found was nearly every person working in the kitchens failed to reach the handwashing standard set by the CDC, which is probably not reassuring if you’re currently out to eat at a restaurant in Tar Heel State.

Read on Gizmodo

GlitterBug handwashing products

By AJ Dellinger / gizmodo.com

Moments when you should wash your hands

Certain events, actions or circumstances can make handwashing more important. For example, after being in public places, or handling often-touched objects like handrails and doorknobs, before preparing food, before eating and after using the rest-room. When possible it is best to avoid touching moist areas of your body such as eyes, nose and mouth unless you first wash your hands. Further, it is advisable to wash your hands after touching those areas. Germs most often travel by climbing aboard hands until they find a good opportunity to jump off into food we consume or directly into the portals of our bodies (mouth, nose and eyes etc.). Before helping these bugs find the greener pastures and making us sick send them down the drain.

cdc.gov/handwashing

GlitterBug handwashing products

Prevention always starts with good hand hygiene

Searching for the cause of an E Coli outbreak can send investigators in many different directions. This is a reminder that good hand hygiene practices and proper food preparation are of utmost importance. E Coli can be found in contaminated soil or water but it can also be spread through infected people. Germs that make us sick are everywhere and while we cannot always control where or how our food is grown we can control how we prepare it and make sure our hands are clean when doing so. Check out these links to the latest news on the Romain lettuce E Coli outbreak and the CDC which both reference person-to-person contact and the importance of hand washing.

Discount code ‘SUMMER’ good for 10% Off! extended to June 30

Shop Now

Germs Don’t Take Summer Vacations

Phew! We made it through the worst of the cold and flu season! With summer around the corner though, there is more waiting for us than just sunshine and snow cones. Playgrounds, water parks and amusement parks are full of fun, but also full of germs. Make sure to use good hand hygiene to make the most of your summertime adventures without taking home the wrong kind of souvenir. Check out Brevis.com for fun and creative reminders you can share with family and friends about the importance of keeping their hands clean this summer. Read more about summertime germ precautions.

10% Off

Use the promo code SUMMER to save 10% off on all orders through May 31st, 2018.

Shop Now