Although sanitizers have been used as a good hand disinfectant for a long, the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic drove the use of hand sanitizers. Nowadays, alcohol based hand sanitizer has become an integral part of our daily lives. It is an effective alternative for soap & water, and is recommended by health officials for Coronavirus protection. Since, there is yet a vaccine to develop, taking precautions are better than the treatment. Frequent use of an alcoholic hand sanitizers like IPA hand sanitizer is one such good practice.
However, irrespective of how better we are aware of the benefits of the alcohol based hand sanitizer, only a handful of us know regarding it. When our lives are so dependant on hand sanitizer these days, knowing more about it only will make our healthcare measures better.
- Most of the hand sanitizers contain alcohol because it’s very effective in killing different kinds of viruses and bacteria including the virus causing COVID-19. The main ingredient of an alcohol based hand sanitizer is either ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, or n-propanol that denature the protein envelope of viruses and bacteria. It unfolds the protein structure, disrupts the cellular metabolism, and destroys the pathogen.
- The higher the alcohol concentration, the better the effectiveness is not true. WHO and the CDC recommends the use of at least 60% alcohol in a hand sanitizer for effective germ-killing. Any concentration below that level might be able to reduce the microbes but cannot destroy them completely. However, you might think that if 60% is good, then 100% would be better, which is completely wrong. As alcohol is highly volatile, pure alcohol will evaporate rapidly, especially when the air is less humid, and will not be able to kill the virus present on your skin. Alcohol with a little amount of water acts faster in protein denaturation. Besides, 100% alcohol will be harsh on your skin making it dry and cracks will appear. Regular use of hand sanitizers will not be possible, and the reason why most alcohol based hand sanitizers contain moisturizing agents.
- DIY hand sanitizers might be risky as miscalculations while making homemade hand sanitizers will make it ineffective. While mixing the alcohol and moisturizer, generally aloe vera gel alcohol concentration might become reduced which will make the hand rub less effective. Another issue is that, because of the scarcity of raw alcohol, some do-it-yourself formula includes vodka which contains only 40% alcohol.
- Alcohol has limitations in killing microbes. Most of the disease-causing bacteria and viruses are killed by alcohol having concentrations over 60%. Alcohol is effective in killing viruses with an outer wrapping called the envelope. However, alcohol cannot destroy some of the non-enveloped virus likes of norovirus, Clostridium dificile, etc. The Coronavirus is an enveloped virus and alcohol based hand sanitizer is very effective in killing the virus.
The high efficiency of alcohol in killing pathogens makes it a good ingredient for hand hygiene. Appropriate use of at least 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer will only protect you from deadly diseases likes the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19.