Best Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer. Raise your (potentially germy) hand if everyone at work is out of the office with the flu, a cold, or some other communicable disease? Last year I wrote another blog post comparing the symptoms of the flu, H1N1, and the common cold and being able to tell the difference between the three. While I was writing that post I learned more than I ever expected to about hand sanitizer and have been meaning to blog about it.

This blog post will include everything you ever wanted to know, and probably didn’t know about these alternatives to soap and water.

1. More Alcohol the Better

  • Should contain AT LEAST 60% alcohol (i.e. ethanol, isopropanol)
  • Studies show that are “alcohol free” are much less effective at killing germs

2. Size Matters

  • If you’re not using at least half a teaspoon of sanitizer, you might not be using enough. 3ml recommended (at least half a teaspoon)

3. Watch the Clock

  • 20 to 30 seconds of vigorous rubbing required, rub your hands until they are dry.
  • If your hands are dry before 20 to 30 seconds have elapsed you probably didn’t use enough (see 2)

And remember, NOTHING beats soap and water (with vigorous scrubbing.) Medical professionals recommend using hand sanitizers when you cannot wash with soap and water. Even with more alcohol, it’s still not as effective.

According to Consumer Search the following:

BEST Hand Sanitizer reviewed:

Best Hand Sanitizer - purell“Several store brands contain the same ingredients as Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer, but professional testers and everyday users tend to prefer the way Purell smells and feels on their skin”

Price: $4 for 8 oz

*couldn’t find official Facebook or Twitter account information

BEST Natural Hand Sanitizer reviewed:

Best Natural Hand Sanitizer - eo non-alcoholic, organic, natural“EO gets high marks for ingredient safety, environmental friendliness and social responsibility from watchdog websites.”

Price: $8 for 8 oz

Twitter: http://twitter.com/eoproducts

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/EO-Products/370792511937

Additional information about hand sanitizers can be found:

Trends the Flu’s Setting this Fall

In order to get the information, health updates, and alerts that you’re concerned about, check out the social media playground this season’s flu is playing on.  I’ve consolidated 12 Flu Tweeps to follow, Facebook pages to fan, and other websites that offer awesome, easy to understand information about this proclaimed pandemic!

Flu Resources – Includes links to official government health and flu resources, information to share with co-workers

Social Media – Easily track influential outbreaks in your area (and internationally), follow Flu tweets, and get Facebook updates instantly AND directly from the government sponsored resources.

Flu Resource Websites


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website

H1N1

  • Free printable materials – includes flyers, posters, stickers, and toolkits.

CDC Social Media for H1N1

Flu.gov’s website

  • Interactive Maps – find state resources, news on seasonal and N1H1 flu, state health department RSS feeds and Twitter updates
  • H1N1

WHO’s H1N1 website

  • World Health Organization offers worldwide updates and news feeds including a RSS feed for the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009.
  • WHO news via Twitter @WhoNews
  • Information for individuals, businesses, FAQs, etc.

Flu Trending across the US, Australia, & New Zealand


Google Flu Trends – Google’s done it again!  Based on aggregated Google search data to estimate the current flu activity for the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico (still experimental phase.)  You can track the United States or by state.

Flu-related and Informative Facebook Pages:


  • Flu.gov – Stream reliable, up-to-date information through Facebook!
  • CDC – just one of many social media tools provided by the CDC.
  • American Lung Association – Fighting to help you breathe better!

12 Official Flu Tweeps to Follow:


  • @FluGov – One-stop access to U.S. Government H1N1, avian and pandemic flu information.
  • @CDCEmergency – CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response: increasing the nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.
  • @CDCFlu – For flu-related updates from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • @whonews – World Health Organization’s (WHO) official tweets…get official news about the H1N1 pandemic, as soon as it develops!
  • @WSJHealthBlog – “The Wall Street Journal Health Blog offers news and analysis on health and the business of health.”
  • @riskcomm – bulletins from the WHO and PAHO (Pan American Health Organization).
  • @LungAssociation – “The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.”
  • @pahowho – Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is an international public health agency with over 100 years of experience working to improve health and living standards of the people of the Americas.
  • @RedCross – “Official twitter stream for the American Red Cross. Follow us for disaster and preparedness updates.”
  • @Reuters_FluNews – “Reuters coverage of the emerging swine flu outbreak”
  • @PublicHealth – “The American Public Health Association works to protect Americans from health threats.”
  • @GetReady – “APHA’s Get Ready campaign is helping Americans prepare for all health hazards, including pan flu, infectious diseases, disasters and other health emergencies.”

Youtube:


Stream videos from official government health agencies:

Fall into Flu Season w/ the Facts: Cold vs. Flu vs. H1N1??

Do you know what the different symptoms between the common cold and the seasonal flu are?  Do you know the difference between the seasonal flu and H1N1?  Do you know how long the virus can live, outside of a carrier?  How long you’re contagious for?

With the onslaught of flu season and as the word pandemic starts to breathe fear into everyone’s H1N1 concerns, I thought an incredibly helpful post would consolidate important news and resources into a single location, broken up into a series of posts.  I tried to keep it in one article and there’s just TOO much information out there.  I verified facts across the multiple government health websites (including the CDC, Flu.gov) as well as other reputable online medical resources (like the Mayo Clinic and WebMD) so that you could quickly get the facts.

Let this help you share ONLY information (and not the germs) with your friends, coworkers, and family.

Informational Flu Post includes:

  • Cold vs. Flu – How sick am I?!
  • Detailed Flu and Cold information – How long do symptoms last, how long are you contagious for, how long does the virus live on objects…
  • Seasonal Flu vs. H1N1 – Know the symptoms of the common flu, H1N1, and other “popular” strands of the virus!
  • Preventive Actions – How to keep from getting sick and spreading the viruses if you do have it!

Future posts will include:

  • Flu social media resources – Best flu tweeps to follow and other social media resources
  • Infected – What to do if you do have the flu, when to go to the doctors, etc.
  • Vaccinations – Detailed information about the different vaccinations (who’s high risk, etc.), when and where to get it.

*Hope to post everything by the end of this week!

Cold vs. Flu

In the past week, I have probably looked up the symptoms of a cold and symptoms of the flu several times (every time one of my symptoms changes…)  I consolidated all the symptoms to this simple chart based on information from several top medial resources (Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mayo Clinic, WebMD):

Symptoms

Common Cold

Seasonal Flu

Runny or stuffy nose

Common

Occasionally

Itchy or sore throat

Common

Occasionally

Cough

Mild

Common,

Chest discomfort

Congestion

Common

Sometimes

Sneezing

Sometimes

Sometimes

Watery eyes

Sometimes

Rarely

Fever

Rare, Low-grade

102+ F, Frequently

Fatigue/Tiredness

Mild

Common, 2-3 weeks

Headache

Rare, Mild

Common

Body Aches

Rare, Mild

Common, severe

Diarrhea

No

Sometimes

Vomiting

No

Sometimes

Chills

N

Common

*NOTE: Colds and the seasonal flu are all respiratory illnesses that are caused by DIFFERENT viruses.

In most of the articles I read, another determinate between differentiating between the flu and a cold is the severity of symptoms.  While many symptoms are found in both illnesses, the flu’s extremeness (i.e. extreme exhaustion, high-grade temperature, extreme chest discomfort) is a good indicator that you don’t just have a common cold…

The Mayo Clinic also offers a flu checklist.

Detailed Flu and Cold information:

Researching this article was incredibly helpful for me (and both my parents are nurses!)  I have included other interesting and important to know information about characteristics of both the seasonal flu and common cold:

Common Cold Seasonal Flu
Length of Illness Symptoms for 4-10 days 7 days with fatigue potentially lasting several weeks
Incubation Period (Time before symptoms appear) 1-3 days of coming in contact w/ virus 2-5 days of coming in contact w/ virus
Contagious

(Time to avoid ppl)

First 3 days you have symptoms 1 day before symptoms show, up to 5 days after
Flu Spreads

(Tips and tricks to catching flu/cold)

Touching eyes, mouth, nose after making contact (touching contaminated object) with virus (droplets from spit, coughing) Touching eyes, mouth, nose after making contact (touching contaminated object) with virus (droplets from spit, coughing)
Virus Survival

(Length of time virus lives on objects)

Up to 3-4 hours outside the body on skin or objects… Up to a couple of days, depending on the surface!

Seasonal Flu vs. H1N1

This chart was also the consolidated version of multiple resources from WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, the CDC, and Flu.gov (which is a government site dedicated to flu information.)  Although H1N1 is a household term, the specifics of the symptoms is not always known.  Although you don’t have to have the additional symptoms, the following chart can be used as a helpful indicator.

Check back here for Flu.gov’s updated version of symptoms for both seasonal and H1N1 strains:

Seasonal Flu

H1N1 Flu

Fever

Fever

Coughing and/or sore throat

Coughing and/or sore throat

Runny or stuffy nose

Runny or stuffy nose

Headaches and/or body aches

Headaches and/or body aches

Chills

Chills

Fatigue

Fatigue

Vomiting

Diarrhea

*Although you can have H1N1 without having the additional symptoms, the final 2 are often indicative of the illness.

Preventive Actions (Catching and Spreading Illness)

1 – Wash hands with soap and water, constantly!! The physical friction from rubbing your hands together eliminates additional germs that aren’t killed by hand sanitizer.  (Check back soon for my in-depth post on the effectiveness of different hand sanitizers and why!)

2 – Cover your mouth w/ a tissue when you cough and sneeze…if you don’t have a tissue (and especially if you won’t be able to wash your hands or hand sanitize), cough or sneeze into your sleeve or arm.  (Afterwards, refrain from rubbing said sleeve on your friend’s eyeballs…)

3 – Get plenty of sleep; those who get less than 7 hours have more weakened immune systems!

4 – Help prevent others from getting sick! If you were infected with any kind of flu, the CDC recommends remaining home until you’re fever free (w/o fever reducing medicine like Tylenol or Motrin) for at LEAST 24 hours!

*My next post will go into more details about this!

Great Resources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [Seasonal Flu] – Information from the CDC about the seasonal flu.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [H1N1 Flu] – Information from the CDC about H1N1.

Flu.gov – One-stop access to U.S. Government H1N1, avian and pandemic flu information.

Mayo Clinic [Common Cold] – Includes overview, definition, detailed information, prevention, treatment, remedies, causes and risks for the common cold.

Mayo Clinic [Seasonal Flu] – Includes overview, definition, detailed information, prevention, treatment, remedies, causes and risks for the seasonal flu.