We have a bottle of hand sanitiser in our 21st Century Medicine Collection.
Hand sanitiser is a gel or foam that kills germs and infectious bacteria. It is used as an alternative to hand-washing, and comes in two main varieties, those that are alcohol-based and those which are not. Hand sanitiser is listed on the WHO’s List of Essential Medicines.
Alcohol-based hand sanitiser kills many types of viruses by dissolving their fat membranes. It kills bacteria by disrupting its cell membrane. The product also usually contains hydrogen peroxide which kills bacterial spores.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, hand sanitiser has become standard in workplaces, and other public spaces such as shops, in order to help protect people from contracting the virus.
Listen to Dr Oliver van Hecke, from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, talk about hand washing and hand sanitisers here: