Stay Healthy - Hand Sanitizers Work

Using Hand Sanitizer
Using Hand Sanitizer. Ashok Rodrigues/E+/Getty Images

Colds, flu, stomach flu, diarrhea. Sharing others' germs shares misery and interrupts your exercise routines. Health experts agree that one thing can prevent spreading these ills - hand washing or hand sanitizing, especially after using the restroom.

Washing or Gelling

As a walker, I use public restrooms and porta johns frequently. Facilities vary as to whether they provide soap and water, hand sanitizer gel, or nothing.

I carry with me a small tube of hand sanitizer gel to use when nothing is provided. The gel is used without water, it quickly dries while killing the germs that can transmit stomach flu and diarrhea, as well as colds.
More: When to Use Hand Sanitizer

When soap and water are available, I follow the hospital formula of sudsing up well and singing the "ABC" song to myself so I am lathering for the recommended 15-30 seconds.
More: The Right Way to Wash Your Hands

Healthy Hands, Healthy Families Study

An interesting study of families with at least one child in daycare gave them hand sanitizer and hygiene instruction, as well as a control group that received just nutrition information. The families put the sanitizer in the bathroom, kitchen, and baby's room. They were instructed to use it before preparing food, and after using the toilet or changing diapers. The results - when a family member came down with a gastrointestinal bug such as the stomach flu, they were far less likely to spread it to other family members as in families that didn't use the hand sanitizer, a 59% reduction was seen.

The spread of colds could be similarly reduced if families used the sanitizer after coughing, sneezing, etc. But they didn't appear to do that, so the effect was minimal on colds.
More: Healthy Families Study

Use Hand Sanitizer Gel to Stay Healthy

Make a small tube of hand sanitizer an essential in your fanny pack, backpack, and purse.

Many new formulas both sanitize and moisturize your hands. They are far gentler on your hands than constant handwashing with soap and water. You will still need to wash with soap and water to remove obvious dirt, but the gels are ideal for those on-the-go.

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