Hand sanitizers have been in the news recently. You have probably heard about a recent issue the FDA has had with claims made by Gojo, the company that makes Purell hand sanitizer.
It seems the company got a bit over their skis and claimed the product could kill or decrease the number of pathogens on the skin without adequate research to support the claims. The FDA issued a letter instructing the company to remove the claims from the Web site.
Hand Sanitizer is Still OK to Use
My greatest concern since this story came out is that people will stop using hand sanitizer. While soap and water is best, we don’t always have a sink available.
The FDA published an article about how the organization evaluates these products. It stresses that they are not saying hand sanitizers should not be used — the FDA wants manufacturers to conduct research about their product’s effectiveness, as it does with many products.
What Are the Guidelines?
The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer when the hands are not visibly soiled, and the product is alcohol-based.
They have a special section for patients. Important points to remember include:
- Clean your hands whenever you’ve touched something a lot of other hands have touched, such as using a handrail, pressing the buttons in an elevator, the handle on a shopping cart…you get the idea.
- Hand sanitizer is most effective when hands are rubbed together to spread the liquid over all surfaces of both hands. Continue to rub until the hands are dry. As with handwashing, it’s the friction between the hands that’s key to removing the pathogens.
- Patients can and should expect health care providers to clean their hands in front of them. If you do not see your provider clean her or his hands, then you should ask.