We all know that alcohol-based hand sanitizer and hygiene soap are the best defences against illness-causing germs.
Some members of the public might want to take extra precautions to prevent themselves from contracting and transmitting germs.
However, this well-intentioned measure can make them vulnerable to misinformation.
There are plenty of hand washing hacks that do far more harm than good. They are passed on in blogs, social media posts and through word of mouth.
Here are a few hand washing hacks that are actually hoaxes to be avoided at all costs:
Sanitizing Hands with Bleach
While bleach and other household disinfectants are effective at disinfecting household surfaces, they can be harmful to humans. Bleach can burn your eyes and mouth, irritate your skin and is poisonous when ingested.
Disinfecting with UV Lamps
UV radiation can irritate your skin and damage your eyes. Furthermore, a number of germicide experts do not have much faith in household UV lamps. These products have not been studied sufficiently by scientists, so any evidence of efficacy is sketchy at best. Germicidal experts also stress how hard it is to create effective UV technology. There is only a narrow band of UV light (far-UVC) that can kill viruses without penetrating living skin cells.
This is all to say; household UV lamps are no replacement for the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
Disinfecting with Hand Dryers
Hand dryers do not disinfect or sanitize your hands. However, they are an important part of the hand washing process. Soap and hand sanitizers are effective at reducing the number of illness-causing germs on your hands, but drying is the final step that ensures the process is effective.
Drying your hands with paper towels or cloth towels removes more germs than washing alone because the friction caused by this drying method reduces the germ count even further.
Misinformation is just as dangerous as harmful pathogens. If enough people fall for a particular myth, it severely hampers efforts to stop the spread of germs.
And since the end of community transmission relies on everyone to follow the right guidelines and precautions, even a bit of misinformation puts everyone at risk.
This is why it’s important to only follow your information from reliable sources that are backed by science. These include the World Health Organization and the Department of Health’s website.
While you sift through the avalanche of information at your fingertips, remember to follow age-old hand hygiene guidelines in the interim. This includes washing your hands with soap water as often as you can.
When soap and water are not readily accessible, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
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