Hand Sanitizer Gives A False Sense Of Virus Protection

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Hand Sanitizer Gives A False Sense Of Virus Protection
Hand Sanitizer Gives A False Sense Of Virus Protection
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Hand sanitizer gives a false sense of virus protection

A new Japanese study has shown that rubbing it quickly with an alcohol-based hand rub does not kill viruses on hands after sneezing or coughing.

Hand sanitizer gives a false sense of virus protection
Hand sanitizer gives a false sense of virus protection

Photo: pxhere.com /

Quick application of an alcohol-based hand rub to hands after sneezing or coughing does not kill acute respiratory infections and influenza viruses. According to a study published by the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan, published in mSphere, it's all about wet mucus on your fingers.

The researchers applied wet mucus collected from people infected with influenza A to the fingertips of 10 volunteers, and then applied hand sanitizer. The alcohol did not kill the flu virus, even when the antiseptic was left on the fingers for two minutes. It took four minutes to fully deactivate the virus.

The results of this new study contradict many of the previous studies showing that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective against the spread of germs.

“In our studies, alcohol-based hand sanitizers worked pretty darn well compared to soap and water. This is because most people don't wash their hands enough to kill germs. We conducted polls, observed people and calculated their time. It only takes 11 seconds. So nobody really does it for long enough,”said microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor at the University of Arizona.

Another reason for the conflicting results, according to Japanese researchers, is that most previous studies have used hand sanitizer to remove dried mucus. Whereas it is wet mucus that is the medium necessary for microbes to grow and spread. In the new study, it was the thick consistency of mucus that protected the virus from death for so long.

By the way, when, as part of the same experiment, participants wiped their fingertips with completely dried mucus with antiseptics (half an hour after application), the influenza virus died within 30 seconds after application.

In the future, Japanese scientists plan to investigate the effect on influenza viruses of more intensive rubbing of an antiseptic.

“The effectiveness of thoroughly rubbing the hands with an antiseptic to remove contaminated mucus may be higher than the results of our study. We are testing the scientific relevance of rubbing hands to offer better care,”said Ryohei Hirose, molecular gastroenterologist and co-leader of the study.

The study also showed that washing hands in running water for 30 seconds led to the death of the influenza virus in both wet and dry mucus. Therefore, after sneezing or coughing, you should immediately wash your hands thoroughly. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends doing this as follows:

wet your hands with clean running water, apply soap and lather it;

  • clean all surfaces - palms, their backs, fingers, between fingers, under nails;
  • rub your hands for 20 seconds;
  • rinse under clean running water, dry with a clean towel, or air dry.

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