Proper hand hygiene is one of the most effective and at the same time simplest measures against the spread of pathogens, a message the World Health Organization (WHO) has been promoting for years1. Experts estimate that about 90% of all hospital infections are transmitted via the hands. In everyday life, personal hand hygiene – at least before coronavirus – was not especially good.
Hand disinfection, as a core element of good hygiene practice, can prevent infections. Studies show that the probability of gastrointestinal infections, and also respiratory and skin infections, is significantly reduced when people disinfect their hands or at least wash them very thoroughly3.
Check your instincts against our hand hygiene questions below
No, but the reason might surprise you...
Washing your hands will make them clean but disinfection kills pathogens. When washing your hands thoroughly, some germs and viruses are rinsed off with dirt and skin particles. Hand disinfection eliminates the pathogens very quickly and thoroughly. The reduction in germ levels required to reliably prevent further transmission of pathogens is specified in international test standards (such as EN 1500). Neither hand washing nor “non-alcoholic hand disinfection” meet this requirement.
No - high quality hand disinfectant should not make skin dry.
Premium hand disinfectants, such as desderman® pure, contain specially selected care ingredients. They deliver valuable care and moisturising properties to the skin with every application. The dispensers can be conveniently placed wherever they are needed – even away from washbasins.
However, low quality hand disinfectants may contain ingredients that can actually damage the skin. Also frequent hand washing with soap and water is stressful on the skin and can make it dry and cracked.
Yes, alcohol remains the ingredient of choice for hand disinfection.
Ethanol and 1- and 2-propanol are examples of aliphatic alcohols and are the agents of choice for hand disinfection and with good reason. They are effective against bacteria, yeasts and many viruses in a very short time (the relevant test standard EN 1500 for hygienic hand disinfection prescribes max. 30 seconds).
“Effective” means that the disinfectant reduces the number of pathogens to such an extent that transmission is excluded or unlikely. “Non-alcoholic hand disinfectants”, mainly of which are based on chlorine, do not meet the requirements of EN 1500 and are unsuitable for effective infection prevention. As oxidising substances they also degrade the skin and contribute to skin ageing. The VAH (German Association for Applied Hygiene) strongly advises against the use of products containing sodium hypochlorite for hand disinfection due to instability and possible skin irritation.
For a hand hygiene concept that can be successfully implemented in practice, it is essential to make approved products easily available.
Cleaning the hands before starting work and when visibly dirty removes dirt and micro-organisms. Our sensiva® wash lotion with skin-friendly surfactant cleans hands gently and thoroughly.
schülke hand disinfectant brand desderman® has broad efficacy and excellent skin tolerance – demonstrated both in various studies and by millions of uses in the health care sector. Our products are particularly suitable for high-frequency daily use.
schülke sensiva® protective emulsion is designed to protect the skin from irritation. Absorbs rapidly and leaves a non-greasy feel to the hands, so ideal for frequent use to nourish the skin.
1. https://www.who.int/infectionprevention/campaigns/clean-hands/en/last queried on 26/06/2020.et elit.
2. Judah G et al. (2010) Dirty Hands: bacteria of faecal origin on commuters’ hands. Epidemiol. Infect. 138: 409-414.
3. Bloomfield S et al. (2007) The effectiveness of hand hygiene procedures in reducing the risks of infections in home and community settings including hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers. AJIC (10Supplement I):S27-S64.
4. Jameson D et al. (2006) Disease control priorities in developing countries. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
5. Curtis V and Cairncross S (2003) Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: A systematic
review. The Lancet Infectious Diseases 3(5): 275–281.
6. Aiello AE et al. (2008) Effect of hand hygiene on infectious disease risk in the community setting: A meta-analysis.
American Journal of Public Health 98(8): 1372–1381.
7. Arbogast J.W. et al. (2016) Impact of a Comprehensive Workplace Hand Hygiene Program on Employer Health Care
Insurance Claims and Costs, Absenteeism, and Employee Perceptions and Practices JOEM Volume 58, Number 6.
8. Hubner NO et al. (2010) Effectiveness of alcohol-based hand disinfectants in a public administration: Impact on health
and work performance related to acute respiratory symptoms and diarrhoea. BMC Infectious Diseases 10(1): 250.
9. VAH (eds.). Chlorine-based disinfectants: Requirements for certification by the VAH. As of 07/05/2020. Pre-publication online at www.vah-online.de.