Health and Hygiene Essay about Hand Sanitizers and Soap

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Are Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers More Effective Than Soap and Water for Reducing Transmission of Infections?

Infections occur when the presence of pathogenic microorganisms compromises an individual’s immune system. These pathogens can be transmitted between individuals through physical contact and exchanging bodily fluids or acquired from contaminated surfaces. The hands frequently come into contact with the face, and they are often the dirtiest part of the body. This contact allows pathogens to enter through the eyes, nose, and mouth. Handwashing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers are two ways to avoid transmitting infections that vary in effectiveness.

Rinsing with soap is considered to be the best method in preventing transmission since it effectively removes any visible substances on the skin (Hilburn et al. 109). However, it cannot eliminate the presence of microorganisms. According to Burton et al., using soap and water can only significantly reduce the population of Enterococcus and Enterobacter bacteria (100). There are antimicrobial soaps sold in the market, but there is no evidence of it being more effective than regular soap.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have around 60-70% alcohol content, which can quickly eliminate almost all microorganisms with a few exceptions, such as the spores of Bacillus anthrasis (Mathur). Though invulnerable, they can be removed by rinsing with soap, which is why it is just as essential as using sanitizers.

Between the two methods, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers is more effective against microorganisms. However, it is recommended to rinse with soap, then use sanitizers to guarantee the prevention of pathogen transmission.

Works Cited

Burton, Maxine, et. al. “The Effect of Handwashing with Water or Soap on Bacterial Contamination of Hands.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 8, no. 1, Jan. 2011, pp. 97-104. MDPI Open Access Journals, doi:10.3390/ijerph8010097.
Hilburn, Jessica, et. al. “Use of Alcohol Hand Sanitizer as an Infection Control Strategy in an Acute Care Facility.” American Journal of Infection Control, vol. 31, no. 2, April 2003, pp. 109–116. Science Direct, doi:10.1067/mic.2003.15.
Mathur, Purva. “Hand Hygiene: Back to the Basics of Infection Control.” The Indian Journal of Medical Research, vol. 134, no. 5, Nov. 2011, pp. 611-620. National Center BI, doi:10.4103/0971-5916.90985.