Hand Sanitizing 101
For many years, we have had our touch-less hand sanitizer dispensers available for everyone to use at the front entrance of our office. We made it mandatory for all visitors starting in February, with the spread of COVID-19 - and this rule is still in place.
Some visitors were glad for our proactivity, others rolled their eyes or sighed and voiced that we were going overboard and that we were maybe being a little too excessive. But, dental offices are medical offices - we work with people and their bodily fluids and if we're not 1100000% on cleaning, on sanitization, and on sterilization, then it can put everyone at risk. So, we've said it before and we'll say it again - better safe than sorry. We prefer to do our part in implementing preventative measures rather than taking a lax attitude about safety and unintentionally spreading infectious diseases.
Having said that, similar to hand-washing, it's a good idea to have a refresher on how to do it properly. We offer touch-free dispensers at our offices - but if you have your own small bottle, keep it easily accessible at all times, don't share it with others (because the outside of the bottle will contain microbes - many experts say don't even share lotion bottles because of this same reason) and use it regularly.
When choosing a hand sanitizer, make sure it's at least 60% alcohol. And please, please, please don't 'make your own' hand sanitizer. It's tricky getting the percentages correct - too little and you're not going to inactivate all the germs, too much and the skin of your hands will be damaged over time - which makes it easier for pathogens to get into your system and make you sick.
Also, it's important to note that if you have the option of hand-washing or hand-sanitizing, choose hand-washing - simply put, soap destroys the outer layer of viruses, making them inactive. If you want to have a look at a really great, informative video, Alton Brown explains it well. Sanitizers don't have that same property, so you may be leaving some pathogens on your hands.
But if sanitizer is all you got, here's how to do it correctly:
1) Apply sanitizer to the palm of your hand - the amount to use should be written on the bottle you have.
2) Cover all surfaces of your hand, just like you would if you were washing your hands. As a review, please revisit our previous blog post on Hand Washing 101. Remember to get both palms, the webbing between your fingers, along the length of your fingers and thumbs, and circling your fingernails into the opposite palm. Here's a visual from the World Health Organization.
3) Make sure you're not shaking off or wiping away the 'extra' sanitizer with a paper towel - this can reduce the effectiveness of the hand sanitizer. Just continue rubbing it into your skin until it dries - bonus points if you go over all the areas for a second time :D.
4) The whole process should take about 20-30 seconds.
If you need to complete forms or hand us insurance info, etc, please take your time sanitizing first - we know it requires extra time when there are new safety regulations, but we value the importance of everyone's health. So don't feel the need to rush the hand sanitization process!
5) Apply moisturizing cream or hand lotion regularly to help prevent cracked skin. Washing and sanitizing hands often can lead to dry hands - and that can lead to damaged skin. If this happens, it makes it easier for harmful microbes to get into your system and make you sick.