Hand sanitizers are a common item on our desktop, in our bags, as well as for grocery stores, gyms, and other facilities. Hand sanitizers combat bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that threaten our health every day.
But still many questions are omitted. Which hand sanitizer works best? Which hand sanitizer is the most effective to use? Is alcoholic hand sanitizer better than alcohol-free hand sanitizer?
Currently, the market offers us two different options: alcohol-based gels and alcohol-free foaming hand sanitizers. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks. Choose the one that is right for you. Think how and where you need to use hand sanitizer very much.
Benefits and concerns about alcohol-based gel sanitizers
Alcohol-based products will include two active ingredients; Alcohol or Isopropanol. They share many of the same qualities. Their main difference is at the molecular level. A distinctive property they both share is that they are highly flammable. The FDA recommends that hand sanitizers should contain 60% –95% alcohol for maximum efficacy. Hospitals and other facilities need to consult their local fire officials when planning the installation of alcohol-based dispensers. Facilities must follow local regulations and codes when dealing with such flammable compounds.
Another concern with alcohol-based hand sanitizers is the potential toxicity hazards on ingestion. Most dispensing mechanisms are easy to open for hand sanitizers. With high levels of alcohol concentration, intake can cause acute alcohol poisoning in children and adults.
A common side effect associated with repeated use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers is dryness and breakage that can occur on the hands. This happens because alcohol snatches the oil present in your skin which retains moisture. Temporary absence of these oils may increase skin irritation on the hands. It can also be a symptom of dermatitis. Alcohol can stain areas where the dispenser may drip or leak.
Prolonged action (second to hand washing) alcohol-based products have been recommended by major global health organizations such as the CDC, WHO and FDA. It is still the most commonly used sanitizer in hospitals and other health care facilities. Its effectiveness has been proven time and time again with understanding the test of time.
Pros and cons of alcohol-free hand sanitizers
Most non-alcohol hand sanitizer products available today come in water-based foam. The active ingredient in the products is benzalkonium chloride, a quaternary ammonium. They still provide the same protection as alcohol-based products. The rest of the solution is primarily water and will often be enhanced with skin conditioners such as vitamin E and green tea extract. It is non-flammable, and the low concentration of benzalkonium makes it relatively non-toxic. However, these products are only recommended for outdoor use.
Alcohol-free hand sanitizer entered the market to address gels' concerns and complaints. In many ways, they have succeeded. Usually, these solutions are very easy on hands. They think very little about danger in cases of accidental ingestion. Hand sanitizers without alcohol are a low fire hazard and are non-harmful to surfaces. Another obvious advantage is the extended security that occurs.
A potential drawback with non-alcoholic solutions is that they often come in the form of foam. This can change from a non-foaming system to cost prohibitive as new hardware will be required to install it.
Regardless of some conspicuous advantages, liquor free based items stay to acquire genuine foothold in the wellbeing market. Alcohol-based gels are preferred by health organizations, and are therefore seen by many in the field as a more reliable solution. It is not that these organizations do not recognize the effectiveness of benzalkonium-based solutions. The term "alcohol-free" can apply to any number of products on the market. It is a broad term that makes it impossible for agencies like the CDC and WHO to support.