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Do Hand Sanitizers Really Cut Down on Illness?

Date: Thu 18th May 2017

Q. With the recent increase in use of sanitizers (hand lotions, wipes for supermarket carts, etc.) has there been any real impact on transmission of colds, flu or other diseases?

A. The short answer is no one knows, because no one has studied whether hand sanitizers have cut down on the number of infectious diseases among the public at large.

On a personal level, good hand hygiene clearly can make a difference in health. A 2008 study in The American Journal of Public Health concluded that improvements in hand hygiene, regardless of how the participants cleaned their hands, cut gastrointestinal diseases by 31 percent, and respiratory infections by 21 percent.

The key to stopping disease is breaking the chain that allows pathogens to be transmitted from person to person. Either hand washing or sanitizing can do that.


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