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To wash hands, use soap and water whenever possible

Due to Covid 19 pandemic, frequent use of hand sanitizer and hand washing has become the new essential of our lives over the last six months. Hand sanitizer is a great supplement to soap and water but not a replacement; should use soap and water whenever possible as per Dr Ravi S – Consultant Dermatology and Cosmetology, Columbia Asia Hospital – Mysore

 “Hand washing or use of hand sanitizer is of paramount importance or effective in infection control of Covid 19. These sanitizers have high levels of ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol and antibacterial ingredients called Triclosan. Though they are very effective in killing viruses, there are all possibilities of affecting the skin. Apart from this regular use of sanitizers may also result in dry skin, redness and in extreme cases eczema of the skin. It also thins out the skin and may also enhance ageing or pigmentation of the skin in the long term” said Dr Ravi

Going by all this immediately comes to our mind is should we stop using Sanitizer. Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or more is as effective as using hand rub as it reduces infection. Avoid using hand rub unless you have no access to running water. Apart from this moisturizing the hands and using sunscreen can also minimize damage.  If alcohol-based hand rub is used, wait for the hand rub to dry off completely before applying the moisturizer.  

Frequent use of hand sanitizer irrespective of access to soap and water is not advisable. If the option is only hand sanitizer, we should make sure it is of good quality. When water and soap are not immediately available hand sanitizers with more than 60 percent of alcohol are good as second alternatives.

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