Can you touch food after using a hand sanitizer?

In this article, we answer the following question: Can you touch food after using hand sanitizer? We talk about the components of hand sanitizers, how to use them correctly, how often to use then, and when and why to wash your hands. 

Can you touch food after using a hand sanitizer?

You can touch food after using a hand sanitizer. There is a concern that hand sanitizer may cause alcohol intoxication after its ingestion. However, hand sanitizers mainly consist of about 60–70% of alcohol, which evaporates quickly and makes it safe to eat after using it. It is extremely handy in situations when there is no water available. 

To thoroughly clean your hands with alcohol sanitizer, you should keep these simple recommendations in mind:

  1. Apply the product in the palm of one hand.
  2. Rub your hands together.
  3. Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until dry.

What are the components of hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizers are available in a gel, liquid, or foam mix, and when applied as directed, they are safe to use and keep our hands clean.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain very high percentages of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) and propanol (isopropyl alcohol). People are unaware that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are flammable and proper precautions must be taken for safe use and storage.

Risks of not using hand sanitizers safely.

Alcohol-based gels are flammable, but alcohol evaporates quickly if applied correctly to your hands. The accident happens if, after its application, we are exposed to a source of heat (flame, spark, etc.). If we apply it correctly, following the manufacturer’s instructions, we shouldn’t have any problems.

In this sense, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has a series of fire safety guidelines for health centers where alcohol-based hand sanitizers are used.

When should you use hand sanitizers?

  • Outside healthcare facilities, these products are indicated in the event of an influenza epidemic, gastroenteritis, and, more recently, coronavirus. They can also be used when a person is hospitalized at home.
  • They are also recommended in situations where the sinks are difficult to access: when traveling, in the car before snacking on a sandwich, after a long metro trip, etc.
  • In children over ten years of age, occasional use at school before the canteen, especially during an infectious epidemic, is also of interest if the sinks are unavailable.

How often can I use hand sanitizers?

Their tolerance is good if we apply them to healthy skin, neither burned, nor irritated, nor cut. These leave-in, quick-drying gels often consist of alcohol, antiseptic (antimicrobial agent), and an emollient to prevent skin irritation with frequent use.

Therefore, the alcohol present in these gels is poorly absorbed through the skin, except in premature babies or very young infants. They are suitable for pregnant women and children, under the supervision of an adult for the youngest to avoid ingestion.

Beware, however, of perfumes or essential oils in certain formulas if you are allergic to them!

When to wash your hands

During a day, you touch different people, surfaces, and objects, and thus your hands gather germs. You can get infected with these microbes if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, but you can also pass them on to others.

Always wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer before:

  • Preparing food or eating food
  • Bandaging a wound or when taking care for a sick person
  • Put on or take off contact lenses

Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after:

  • You prepare food
  • Use the toilet or change a diaper
  • You touch an animal, feed it or clean it after it
  • Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze
  • Bandage wounds or after caring for a sick person
  • You take out the garbage
  • Also, wash your hands if they are visibly dirty!

Why hand washing is important

To prevent disease and spread infections to other people, everyone needs to know that hand washing is essential for proper hygiene. Conditions such as respiratory, gastric, skin, or eye conditions, frequently contacted by touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with dirty hands, can affect both people who have a low immune system and healthy ones. 

In the case of babies and young children, such diseases can even be fatal, which is why hand hygiene and body hygiene of adults are crucial when interacting with them.

For example, an important source of germs such as E.coli, norovirus, or Salmonella is fecal matter, microbes that can get on the hands after people use the toilet or change a child’s diaper, but also after handling raw meat. Worryingly, only 19% of people wash their hands after using the toilet, according to global estimates.

Also, bacteria get into the body easily if an object has germs on it because someone with dirty hands touched it or if a person coughed or sneezed nearby.

It is good to know that washing hands with soap and water removes microbes that we can contact through clothes, objects, surfaces, or the food and drinks we consume.

Proper handwashing can prevent almost 30% of gastric diseases and 20% of respiratory infections, such as colds. At the same time, observing the rules of hand hygiene helps to reduce the excess of antibiotics. Hand Washing can prevent people from getting sick from germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and can be challenging to treat.

Conclusions

In this article, we answered the following question: Can you touch food after using hand sanitizer? We talked about the components of hand sanitizers, how to use them correctly, how often to use then, and when and why to wash your hands. 

We remind you that touching food after using hand sanitizer is safe. Clean hands mean health, and everyone should know this, including the little ones. 

UNICEF data show that annually more than one million children under 5 die from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Hand hygiene could protect 1 in 3 children who suffer from diarrhea and 1 in 5 who suffer from respiratory infections such as pneumonia. 

The rules of hand hygiene are not complicated at all, but they actively contribute to limiting the spread of pathogens.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

References

Webmd.com

Mayoclinic.org

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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