Friday, April 29, 2005

More on hand-washing

We here at JBS are a bit scornful of the obsession with antimicrobial soaps, and have previously worried about the possibility that they might lead to selection for more problematic environmental bugs. The most important thing is to wash your hands regularly, especially during cold season.

However, a new study of healthcare workers (who are under more constant assault from potential infectious agents than the average household) can, in fact, be helped somewhat by antimicrobial soaps -- largely because they (like many of us) tend to wash for 10 seconds rather than the recommended 30. In the setting of a shorter wash, the specialized soaps help with bacteria but not with viruses, as one would expect, but even plain tap water was better than the alcohol-based "hand sanitizers" and the like (which the British health system is set to recommend).

So, if you are under constant assault -- say, in a hospital, or in a day-care center -- maybe the antimicrobials and other specialized products will help you out. For the rest of us, good soap and water used regularly will keep the doctor away.

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

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