It is a substance that is applied to hands for removing common disease-causing organisms. It is available in liquid, gel, or foam form. It is recommended when soap and water are not available. It is a simple means of infection control in a variable environment like day-care centers, schools, hospitals, and health care clinics.
Currently, there are two types of sanitizers available in the market.
- Alcohol-based: They contain between 60 and 95% alcohol in the form of ethanol, isopropanol, and n-propanol. This concentration of alcohol immediately denatures proteins, neutralizing certain types of microorganisms.
- Alcohol-free: They are based on disinfectants, such as benzalkonium chloride (BAC), or antimicrobial agents like triclosan. The activity of disinfectants and the anti-microbial agent is immediate and persistent. Many sanitizers contain emollients that soothe the skin, thickening agent, and fragrance.
It depends on multiple factors like way product is applied (eg. quantity used, duration of use, frequency) and whether the specific infectious agents present on the person’s hands are susceptible to active in the product. If alcohol-based sanitizer, if rubbed thoroughly overhand and fingers for 30 seconds can reduce the population of bacteria, fungi, and some enveloped viruses. Some alcohol-free formulations, like SAB (surfactant, allantoin, and BAC) have a similar effect. Most hand sanitizers are relatively inefficient against bacterial spores, nonenveloped viruses, and encysted parasites. They do not cleanse or sanitize the skin when hands are soiled before applying them.
Hand sanitizers can help control the transmission of infectious diseases. For example, the incorporation of hand sanitizer into classroom hand-hygiene programs has been associated with a reduction in absenteeism related to infectious illness. Their use in the workplace has been associated with a reduction in illness and sick days. In hospitals and health care clinics, increased use of hand sanitizer has been linked to an overall improvement in hand hygiene.
WHO and CDC have promoted the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers over alcohol-free products? There is concern over the safety of chemicals used in alcohol-free products. Research has indicated that certain antimicrobial compounds, such as triclosan, may interfere with the endocrine system. Disinfectants and antimicrobials can potentially contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance. Concerns over the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers have centered on product inflammability and ingestion, both unintentional (by young children) and intentional (by individuals seeking to abuse alcohol). These incidents can be minimized with proper storage and strategies that limit access to alcohol-containing sanitizers.
FDA instructs the use of sanitizers that contain toxic methanol
FDA is warning consumers against purchasing and using 9 hand sanitizer brands made in Mexico. These contain as much as 81 percent toxic methanol, which is also known as wood alcohol. It can cause blindness and death if ingested.
According to Dr. Michael Dannenberg, the chair of dermatology at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California, told that “Methanol can dehydrate the skin, causing dry skin, and can result in toxic dermatitis to the affected region. Methanol can be absorbed through the skin and result in toxic levels of this chemical.”
Further, it can result from ingestion or absorption through the lungs or skin.
Methanol poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, weakness, visual disturbance, and loss of consciousness. Its fumes are flammable which is another potential danger.
All-Clean Hand Sanitizer
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer
FDA says “If you have one of these items in your home, stop using them immediately and dispose of them.
Sanitizer Demand at saturation
With the outbreak of the nCovid19 pandemic, it has swept the whole world under its claws of suffering and deaths. With the US being the epicenter of outbreak having most affected by pandemic has led to the demand of virus-killing hand sanitizers to grow exponentially.
This demand has led to a relaxation of rules on the manufacture of hand sanitizers, allowing additional 1500 manufacturers to join the market. This could lead to problems with oversight and product safety.
According to Jessica Ruiz, director of strategic products at Stonegate Pharmacies in Austin, Texas said that All-Clean Hand Sanitizer was labeled ‘FDA approved’ which can be misleading. FDA publishes product listing information provided by the companies that make the drug on the National Drug Code directory, but this does not mean that drug is approved by the FDA.
Ruiz told Healthline that FDA had taken the step of specifically asking manufacturers to denature alcohol which makes it smell and taste bad to help prevent young children from ingesting it and limit harmful impurities like methanol to safe levels.
There have been news of deaths occurring due to consumption of hand sanitizers
“Three men die in Tamil Nadu after consuming hand sanitizer following non-availability of alcohol”
Bangalore Mirror, India Times dated 6 April 2020.
Source: Reference 1