The use of hydroalcoholic gel – like handwashing with soap – helps to control the spread of the coronavirus that caused the Covid-19 epidemic. But to limit the risks of human and environmental contamination, it must be used correctly.
Hydroalcoholic gels or solutions, effective in eliminating viruses and bacteria, are particularly popular in the current epidemic context. At the office, on public transportation, at the supermarket…. with the masks, they accompany us on our daily journeys. But do we really know how to use them properly? An update on counter-productive habits and the dangers associated with these concentrated products
Not respecting the minimum friction time
The application of the gel requires vigorous rubbing of the hands to make the product penetrate and distribute it on the whole skin. To be effective, this gesture must last between 20 and 30 seconds, until the hands are dry
L’World Health Organization recommends using enough to cover both hands and wrists. To protect yourself, it is better to use too much than too little
Make sure that your hydroalcoholic solution or gel carries the NF EN 14476 standardwhich guarantees its effectiveness against viruses. To be effective, the product must also be sufficiently concentrated in alcohol(60 to 70% ethylalcohol, isopropyl propylalcohol ), emphasizes theNational Agency for the Safety of Medicines (Ansm)
Disinfect only the palms of your hands
A drop in the palm is not enough to eliminate the risks. This procedure must be carried out meticulously and step by step
- Rub your hands palm to palm (rotational movement)
- rub the back of your hands
- don’tforget the interdigital spaces
- rub the backs of your fingers
- insist on the thumbs
- pass one last time on the pulp of your fingers
- take the opportunity to insist on your nails. Many bacteria can nestle underneath, which is why it is recommended to cut them regularly.
Use only hydroalcoholic gel
It is important to incorporate good reflexes, but the use of hand washing gels or hydro-alcoholic solutions should not entirely replace hand washing. Indeed, Ansm recommends using them “when no water is available”
Why? These products have bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal properties, but unlike washing with soap and water, they do not clean hands
Use hydroalcoholic gel on wet hands
To be effective, the hydroalcoholic gel must be applied to dry skin. As its name suggests, it contains alcohol, which is much less effective when used on wet hands. As Philippe Glaser, director of the Ecology and Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance Unit at the Pasteur Institute at the Huffpost, points out: “the product is diluted and the less sensitive bacteria will survive”
Moreover, when applied to wet hands, the gel can cause an exothermic reaction and irritate the skin.
Keep a hydroalcoholic gel too long
It may be surprising, but the hydroalcoholic gel does have an expiration date, indicated on the label of the bottle. Once opened, the product is no longer sterile. Generally, it can be stored between 1 and 3 months after the first use (depending on the manufacturer and its composition). If you use it beyond this limit, it may no longer be as effective
The price of hydro-alcoholic solutions remains regulated until January 10, 2021 (like that of masks)
Exposure to the sun after applying hydroalcoholic gel
Hydroalcoholic gel and sun do not mix, dermatologists insist as summer approaches. Because of their high alcohol concentration, these products dry out the skin and make it more fragile to the sun’s rays. The risk of burns is therefore much greater
In addition, products that contain perfume or essential oils can inducehyperpigmentation (appearance of brown spots) after sun exposure. At the beach, whenever possible, always prefer to wash your hands with cold water and soap
Rub your eyes after disinfecting your hands
The hydroalcoholic gel presents high risks for our eyesight. Pain, redness, reduced vision… to avoid these harmful effects, be careful not to wear your hands over your face and eyes after applying the gel.
In a press release published on Friday, July 24, the Adolphe de Rothschild Foundation-Hospital warns of the risks to children: “These solutions, contained in vending machines, are often placed at the height of children, who can get them in their eyes as a result of mishandling”.
“It only takes 30 seconds for the epidermis of the cornea to peel off (with 20% alcohol). There, the hydroalcoholic gels contain 60% to 80%,” explains Pr Eric Gabison, ophthalmologic surgeon, at Le Parisien. In case of projection at eye level, the ophthalmologist advises rinsing the eye with physiological serum for half an hour (if not using water). In case of pain or reduced vision, go to the emergency room
Apply hydroalcoholic gel on your animal
In the face of growing anxiety, some homeowners have come up with questions that are disconcerting to say the least. “Some owners ask us how to disinfect their pets when they return from a walk,” explains Dr. Charlotte Piquet, veterinarian, at France Bleu What should we put on his paws? And on his tongue since he licked all over the floor? Most of the time, they think of bleach or hydro-alcoholic solutions as in human medicine”
However, as early as March, the College of Veterinarians alerted owners to the dangers of using hydroalcoholic detergents and gels. The risks involved? Burns by contact (when the product is deposited on the animal’s skin) or by ingestion when the animal licks its coat. Some cases of ethylic coma have even been reported.
If you wish to wash your pet, use a shampoo adapted to your pet