Hand sanitisers ineffective against illnesses in school children

handwashingUse of hand sanitisers in the classrooms does not help reduce the rate of absenteeism in children owing to illnesses, says a significant study. In a randomised trial at 68 city primary schools in New Zealand, researchers asked children to use the alcohol-based hand sanitiser dispensers after coughing or sneezing and on the way out of the classroom for morning break or lunch.

All children received a 30-minute in-class hand hygiene education session. Researchers found that the provision of a hand sanitiser did not reduce the number of absences due to a specific illness (respiratory or gastrointestinal), the length of illness and length of absence from school, or the number of episodes in which at least one other family member became ill.

In 2,443 children whose parents agreed to be telephoned about the reason for absence, researchers reported that the rate of school absences due to any illness was similar in the intervention and control schools. When using school attendance records from all children in the participating schools, they found the number of absences for any reason and length of absence episode did not differ between the intervention and control schools.

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The trial was undertaken during an influenza epidemic. 'The provision of hand sanitisers in addition to usual hand hygiene in primary schools in New Zealand did not prevent disease of severity sufficient to cause school absence,' authors noted in a paper published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Here some reasons you should think before using hand sanitisers

Check the alcohol content: The bottle says it kills all the germs on your hands. But there is a catch here. For it to act properly, the concentration of the alcohol in the bottle needs to be above 60%. If it isn't you might as well rub some sweet smelling liquid on your hands. Since the rampant sale of this 'miracle', there have been a number of products that are cheaper and promise to give you the same effects. Beware, look at the ingredients and check for the percentage of alcohol. 59% is not good enough. Cheaper is not always better.

Not so good for kids: We all know that kids come with the increased liability of touching unclean things and putting their hands in their mouths. And helicopter moms have found the new age solution to their woes hand sanitizers. But, if you have ever read the fine print behind the bottle you will see a warning telling you to keep it away from kids. That is because your child could be seriously harmed if he/she ingested it. There have been a number of reported incidences of alcohol poisoning in children due to hand sanitizers. While in the case of adults a person would need to swallow large quantities for something untoward to happen, for children a small amount is enough. Added to the risk is the fact that kids tend to put things in their mouths and the sweet, fruity odour only makes them want to consume it even more. So, keep your kids away from the stuff and if you do use hand sanitizers make sure you make them use it in front of you. Read more about Hand sanitizers 9 reasons you should think before using them

With inputs from IANS

Photo source: Getty images

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