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How to wash your hands and use an antiseptic to avoid contracting coronavirus
How to wash your hands and use an antiseptic to avoid contracting coronavirus

Lifehacker found out which is better: wash your hands or use an alcohol-based antiseptic.

How to disinfect your hands so as not to get sick with coronavirus and not dry your skin
How to disinfect your hands so as not to get sick with coronavirus and not dry your skin

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to protect yourself from coronavirus is to keep your hands clean. WHO recommends that you regularly wash your palms with warm water and soap, and if this is not possible, use an alcohol antiseptic.

What better protects against coronavirus - soap or antiseptic

Does not matter. Both soap and alcohol solutions (with an alcohol concentration of at least 60%, this is important) equally effectively get rid of the virus.

Therefore, in general, washing hands with soap and treating with an alcohol-containing sanitizer are interchangeable procedures. Except in a few cases.

When is it better to wash your hands with soap and water

Alcohol sanitizers are almost useless if the skin is heavily contaminated.

In addition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands in the usual way before eating and after using the toilet.

When to use an antiseptic

The United Nations Children's Fund - UNICEF - has compiled a list of situations in which you need to clean your hands as quickly as possible in a pandemic. And it does not matter, with soap and water or alcohol antiseptic.

  1. After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Even if they did it correctly - not in a fist, but in the bend of the elbow. And even more so if you are still in a fist.
  2. Immediately after leaving public places. We are talking about shops, markets, transport, offices and so on.
  3. Immediately after returning home.
  4. After touching any surface outside the home, including cash.
  5. After touching any surfaces that have entered your home from the outside - parcel boxes, shopping and food bags, shoes, outerwear …
  6. Before and after meals.
  7. After garbage handling.
  8. After touching animals, including pets.
  9. After changing diapers or helping children in the toilet. By the way, children also need to handle their hands. Including alcohol-based sanitizers if soap and water are not available.

How to properly disinfect your hands

Lifehacker has already written about how the WHO recommends washing hands. Let's just say that you need to soap your brushes for at least 20 seconds!

As for the antiseptic, the medical publication HealthLine recommends doing this.

  1. Apply disinfectant to the palm of one hand. In such a way that it should be enough for both.
  2. Rub one hand thoroughly against the other. Make sure the antiseptic covers the entire surface of your brushes, including your fingers and the spaces between them.
  3. Continue rubbing your hands until they are dry. This usually takes 30-60 seconds. The longer you work your hands, the more reliably you get rid of viruses and germs.

Which dries the skin more - wash or antiseptic

Hand sanitizers dry skin less than frequent washing with soap, according to the CDC. This is because sanitizers contain moisturizers and emollients such as glycerin or aloe gel.

But it is important to understand that this only applies to certified pharmacy antiseptics or homemade products, in the manufacture of which WHO instructions were carefully followed.

If the recipe is not followed, there is a risk of overdoing it with alcohol. Again, the finished sanitizer can cause dryness and irritation of the skin.

How to protect your skin from dryness

If we are talking about soap, then dryness with frequent hand washing cannot be avoided. To reduce this effect, buy a moisturizing soap. Or here's another option.


Renee Rouleau Skin Care Expert Commenting on HealthLine

Choose liquid soap. It tends to dry out the skin less.

In any case: if you frequently and actively disinfect your hands, extra care will not hurt them. Experts at the American Academy of Dermatology recommend that you moisturize your hands as soon as possible after you wash or use an antiseptic. You need to do it like this:

  1. Make sure your hands are completely dry … To do this, blot them thoroughly with a paper towel after washing, or rub the antiseptic dry.
  2. Use moisturizers that contain mineral oil or petroleum jelly … Choose a cream or ointment: they moisturize better than liquid lotions. Ideally, the cosmetics will be free of fragrances and dyes (they can cause irritation).

There are other ingredients that can help relieve dryness. Look for lanolinic and stearic acids, paraffin, cyclomethicone, dimethicone, squalene, carboxylic acid, lactate, urea, glycerin in the composition of an ointment or cream …

If, despite your best efforts, the skin dries up, consult a dermatologist. You may need a prescription ointment or cream. In addition, dry skin can be a sign of a medical condition, such as eczema, and only a dermatologist can diagnose you correctly.


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