by Ramya Rachamanti on  March 18, 2020 at 10:18 AM General Health News
Alcohol is the Key Ingredient in Hand Sanitizers to Fight Corona
Novel coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, is mainly spread when droplets from a person's mouth or nose are transferred to other people. Touching anything contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth or nose may transmit the virus.

Washing with warm water and soap remains the gold standard for hand hygiene and preventing the spread of infectious diseases as it removes oils from our hands that can harbour microbes. Hand sanitizers provide an alternative option to washing with warm water and soap.

Recently sales of hand sanitizers have soared. New York state has even announced it will start producing its own hand sanitizer to meet demand. Though hand sanitizers can help decrease the risk of catching few infections, not all hand sanitizers are effective against coronavirus.


Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, containing 60% to 95%, usually isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or n-propanol are highly effective compared to non alcohol-based sanitizers.

Alcohol causes denaturation of the envelope protein that surrounds some viruses, including coronaviruses. This protein is vital for a virus's survival and multiplication. But a hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% alcohol in order to kill most viruses.

But Alcohol doesn't kill all microbes. E. coli bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness and other infections, are very effectively killed by alcohol at concentrations over 60 percent. Outer envelope in few viruses like coronavirus may make alcohol less effective against them.

Various research studies have found that an alcohol concentration of 60 percent or greater is needed to be effective. But, pure alcohol may not be effective as it would evaporate too quickly to effectively kill bacteria or viruses on the skin. And, it would dry the skin. That is why most hand sanitizers contain emollients that help soften and moisturize the skin.

Home made sanitizers may not be as effective as commercially available products.

Most commercial hand sanitizers are effective for a couple of years when they are stored properly, and are marked with expiration dates.

Source: Medindia

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