The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds as the top way to clean our hands.
“But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help,” Not all hand sanitizers are the same . They have different percentages of alcohol. The only ones that are effective against viruses are those that have more than 60% alcohol, so look at the label when you buy your hand sanitizer.
The news media has created this sanitizer frenzy and our store shelves are empty with people fighting each other at the stores. However, good old fashioned soap and water is still shown to be the best way to get rid of bacteria and viruses on our hands. Many studies have shown that hand sanitizer does not get rid of all bacteria and viruses. In addition, it has to be used correctly in order for it to be effective. You have to apply a decent amount on your hands and you have to rub it in until it is dry. It takes about 30 seconds for it to dry. If your hands a dirty or greasy, it does not penetrate the dirt or grease and is ineffective.
So how does soap and water work and why is it better than hand sanitizer?
Soap is made up of molecules that have 2 ends. The one end is attracted to fats and proteins and the other end is attracted to water. So, take some oil and pour it into water. The oil pools in a clump. Add detergent to it and it breaks up. This is because the fat loving end of the soap attaches to the oil and the water end stays in the water. The water end then pulls the oil apart.
Studies have shown by using a dye how much soap gets rid of germs vs hand sanitizer and hands down, there is more dye on the hands in this study after using hand sanitizer.
Coronavirus is an enveloped virus. This means it has a lipid or fat layer around it. When we use soap to wash our hands, the fat loving end of the soap attaches to the lipid wall of the virus. The water loving end stays in the water and pulls the wall of the virus apart. The now harmless broken up bits of virus now get washed down the drain.
So, make hand washing your number one choice. You also don’t need special antibacterial soap. All soap whether antibacterial or not has molecules that have a fat loving side and a water loving side. If you are not able to wash your hands then use a hand sanitizer but make sure it has at least 60% alcohol and that you are rubbing it all over your hands including between your fingers for at least 30 seconds until it dries.
We know that there is a lot of concern about the spread of Covid -19 and as an office we are being vigilant and attentive to what we need to do to prevent the spread of the virus. However, at the same time, we are healthcare practitioners and our job is to help patients become healthy or stay healthy. Dental offices treat dental emergencies like pain, swelling, broken teeth. Thus we plan to stay open to help you with your needs as long as the benefits outweigh the risks to our community.