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How Hand Sanitizer Can Help Keep You Healthier

Sandy Braz

Sandy Braz

Live better:

Fitness and lifestyle writer, blogger and editor

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Whether you carry it in your purse, have it in your gym bag or locker or keep a bottle on your desk at work, chances are you’ve relied on hand sanitizer at one time or another to get the job done, especially if hand washing wasn’t an option.

But it almost seems too easy—just one or two pumps of hand sanitizer and we’re germ-free?

Turns out it’s not just fancy marketing—hand sanitizers actually can help reduce the spread of viruses and harmful bacteria. That’s especially good to know if you have small children in day care or in school.

A new study, lead in part by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, suggests that hand sanitizers containing both ethanol and organic acids are more effective at keeping hands germs-free than washing with soap and water. A surprising fact.

The active ingredients, says the study, can actually kill rhinovirus (a.k.a. the flu) for up to four hours on the skin. Although, use sanitizer sparingly—overuse has its drawbacks.

Regular use of sanitizer can cause the skin to dry out. To remedy this, stock up on a sanitizer that has added moisturizers in ingredient list—it could help reduce the dryness.

Whether it’s a thorough hand washing or just a few squirts of sanitizer, the important take away is that you disinfect your hands, period. It could be what keeps you feeling a little healthier during cold and flu season.

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