Hand Cleansing Products
The main products available can be classified into three categories: soap and water, alcohol-based preparations and aqueous antiseptic solutions.
Soap and Water
The primary action of plain soap is the mechanical removal of viable transient micro-organisms.
Alcohol-based handrubs and gels are used as alternatives to handwashing, and cannot replace the need for sinks or other hand-hygiene supplies. Alcohol is not a cleansing agent and visible contaminants on hands must be removed with soap and water or a detergent based solution. Most alcohol based handrubs contain emollients to reduce the drying effect on the skin, and users may experience a “build-up” of emollients on their hands after repeated use of alcohol-based products; certain manufacturers recommend washing hands with soap and water after 5-10 applications of a gel.
Alcohol combined with other anti-microbials (such as an alcohol and chlorhexidine combination) has been found to be very effective against micro-organisms. The most effective product regimen in terms of micro-organism reduction and skin irritation profile is the combination of alcohol with either an
anti-microbial or a plain lotion soap.
Aqueous Antiseptic Solutions
Aqueous antiseptic solutions will remove and destroy skin flora by both mechanical and chemical action.