Hand Sanitizers Provide Limited Protection Against the Flu

September 24, 2019

As we prepare for another flu season, a new study has found that although ethanol-based hand sanitizers are a good defense against flu viruses, they have limited efficacy against pathogens found in mucus, Contagion Live reports.

Researchers in Japan examining the effectiveness of sanitizers against seasonal influenza A virus looked at how antiseptic hand-rubbing methods affected mucus on the hands and fingers of volunteers. They found the virus remained active after the volunteers rubbed their hands with the sanitizer for a full two minutes. In fact, the virus was not completely inactivated until four minutes of hand rubbing. However, when volunteers practiced antiseptic handwashing, they were able to inactivate the virus in 30 seconds.

Although researchers had expected the virus in mucus to be resistant to hand sanitizers, they found the protective effect of mucus was stronger than they had realized. They believe the study suggests there may be room for improvement in current hand hygiene guidelines.

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