Infection prevention with the right hand hygiene - schülke expert interview


Good and regular hand hygiene is the be-all and end-all when it comes to protecting oneself from infections. In the professional healthcare sector, hand disinfection has been an important and everyday component for decades. But at the latest since the beginning of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, hand disinfectant can also be found in almost every private household.

How can you recognize a good disinfectant? Are there any differences at all? And how do you disinfect your hands properly? On the occasion of the International Hand Hygiene Day of the World Health Organization (WHO), our expert Elena Diettrich, Senior Marketing Manager Disinfection at schülke, will answer these and other questions for you in our expert interview.

What consequences can insufficient hand hygiene have?

Elena Diettrich: Insufficient hand hygiene means that hands can be colonized with pathogens. The direct consequence of this is that you spread these germs in the environment. In everyday life and in normal cases, the effects are manageable: pathogens can be transmitted, but the consequences are usually not life-threatening. However, in the event of a pandemic, as we experienced last year with the COVID-19 pandemic, insufficient hand hygiene can have serious consequences and transmission can lead to severe illness. Due to this situation, awareness of hand hygiene has also risen sharply for consumers and employees.

What is the difference between hand washing and hand disinfection?

Elena Diettrich: Washing hands with normal liquid soap and water rinses away dirt and germs. Hand disinfection - applied to clean hands - kills the pathogens.

When is it necessary to disinfect hands in a private environment?

Elena Diettrich: Normally, careful hand washing is sufficient. Prerequisite: Everyone is healthy, no one is being cared for at home and we do not have a pandemic. In the current pandemic situation, it makes sense to disinfect your hands, especially if you are on the move and don't have access to soap and water. Good alcohol-based hand sanitizers have the advantage of being fast and effective.

How do I disinfect my hands properly? Can I also do something wrong?

Elena Diettrich: Disinfectants are chemical products that are subject to many regulations. It is important to read the instructions on the labels thoroughly and to follow them. For successful hand disinfection with schülke hand disinfectants, you can basically remember the following:

  • Apply at least 3 ml of hand disinfectant to clean and dry hands.
  • Rub the product into your handsfor 30 seconds
  • Make sure that the hands remain moist during the entire contact time. If necessary, apply more hand disinfectant.

Good to know: Information on efficacy must be on the product label. The claim to eliminate 99% of all germs is not very meaningful, since no germ group (bacteria, fungi, enveloped or non-enveloped viruses) is specifically mentioned. Hand disinfectants with efficacy against corona viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, for example, have at least the claim limited virucidal / effective against enveloped viruses.

Are there any differences at all in hand disinfectants?

Elena Diettrich: Hand disinfectants sometimes differ significantly from one another in their composition. High-quality hand disinfectants have a broader efficacy, a well-documented skin compatibility and a fast efficacy time for hygienic hand disinfection (30 seconds). Products for hygienic hand disinfection should be tested according to EN 1500.

Do I need to take special care of my hands after hand disinfection?

Elena Diettrich: In the context of the Corona pandemic, many people use hand disinfectants who may not have used them or have used them only rarely. Therefore, it is important to know that well-formulated alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not have a skin-damaging effect per se. However, due to the alcohol content in the products, small wounds or very brittle skin - we are talking about pre-damaged skin - may experience a burning sensation when applied. In this case, however, the cause is not the hand disinfectant but the pre-damaged skin. Therefore, regular care of the skin makes sense in any case, even in the private environment.

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