Jamaica News: The Scientific Research Council (SRC) is calling on citizens to be mindful of the hand sanitisers they create, to protect themselves against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“You want to ensure that the solution you are creating is strong enough to kill microbes, such as the virus which causes COVID-19. The two main agents that we recommend using in the household are bleach and alcohol. Bleach, however, should not be used on the skin, but instead on surfaces,” Manager, Product Research and Development Division, Scientific Research Council, Dr. Charah Watson, told JIS News.
Dr. Watson pointed out that the concentration of alcohol is very important when creating homemade hand sanitisers, and urged persons to be mindful of using too little or too much.
“The hand sanitisers on the market normally contain 62 per cent alcohol. To kill the virus which causes COVID-19, you need at least 60 per cent alcohol, but to be sure, I’d recommend using 70 per cent. Bear in mind that adding water or other over-the-counter pre-made gels can interfere with the alcohol concentration level and the overall effectiveness of your hand sanitiser,” she explained.
Alcohol attacks and destroys the envelope protein that surrounds some viruses, including coronaviruses. This protein is vital for the virus’ survival and multiplication. Therefore, non-alcohol-based sanitisers are not as effective, although they are less drying to the skin.
“You can add a little bit of glycerine to the alcohol hand rub to reduce the drying effect. For each 240-millilitre bottle of alcohol, you can add a quarter teaspoon of glycerine. If you want to add aloe vera, I would recommend adding a quarter teaspoon of the gel from a freshly cut stalk. Over-the-counter aloe vera gel products have additives which can reduce the alcohol concentration of the hand sanitiser,” Dr Watson said.
She advised against adding fragrances, as hand sanitisers are frequently used and continued exposure to strong fragrances in sanitisers may trigger allergic symptoms that can resemble those of COVID-19, such as sneezing.
On the topic of safety, Dr Watson urged citizens to safely store their alcohol-based sanitisers.
“Alcohol is very volatile and because of this volatility, it evaporates quickly and is flammable. Store your sanitisers in a tightly closed bottle and away from direct heat and flames. Do not keep sanitisers in the kitchen and ensure that after using these products your hands are dried before coming in contact with fire. Children should also be monitored when using or making these products,” she informed.
Meanwhile, Dr Watson is reminding citizens that hand sanitisers should not replace regular handwashing.
“Although we are encouraging the frequent use of hand sanitising, this should not replace regular handwashing.
Properly washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to clean them. If you’ve found that you’ve used your hand sanitiser three times consecutively, it’s time to wash your hands. Sanitisers are not a replacement for handwashing but serve as a way of cleaning your hands if soap and water are not available,” she said.