Lifewatch: Hand sanitizer

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Spend some time with toddlers and you'll notice their little hands are everywhere, touching, tapping and grabbing.

To fight the spread of germs, many parents are armed with hand sanitizer. The liquid gel has become a staple for a lot of moms and dads.

With concerns about swine flu, or H1N1 virus, using hand sanitizer has become even more popular.

Bottles of the alcohol-based formula are almost everywhere, from offices to college campuses, but does it really work?

Doctors say it does.

"I would say people should use it several times a day, three or four times a day," said Dr. Paul Sehdev with Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

Experts on infectious disease suggest that most hand sanitize kill 99 percent of bacteria, if used correctly.

"Typically, it is about two squirts, and you want to rub it in all over your hands, up under your finger nails if possible, and you want to keep rubbing it until your hands are completely dry," Sehdev explained.

Doctors add there's no risk of overuse.

"It is not dangerous to you, it is not toxic to you, it can be drying to your hands, but probably less drying than soap to be honest," says Sehdev, "It is not likely that bacteria are going to be resistant to it, because it is such a high concentration of alcohol."

Experts say as long as the alcohol content is above 60 percent, it will work at killing swine flu and other nasty bugs.

They add that hand sanitizer should be used along with regular hand washing.

A little soap and water goes a long way toward preventing the spread of germs.