New study finds that sanitizer works better than handwashing among kids

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day
Posted at 4:00 PM, Oct 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-15 17:54:03-04

Global Handwashing Day is another reminder that many of us are failing to wash our hands properly. In a recent study, the USDA found that 97 percent of survey participants did not adequately wash their hands.

"Most people don't spend that much time at the sink, so the handwashing technique is pretty bad,” said Dr. John Christenson with the Riley Hospital for Children.

If adults don't meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's standards, you can bet kids probably don't either. So researchers in Spain looked more closely at hand sanitizer. Their study was recently published in the journal "Pediatrics."

Researchers evaluated three groups of kids in daycare centers: one that used sanitizer, one that used soap and water, and one that followed usual hand-washing routines.

The hand sanitizer group ended up having the least amount of sick days.

"Not only reduced the number of respiratory illnesses in those children that were using it, but at the same time, reduced the number of prescriptions of antibiotics that had to be dispensed for a respiratory infection,” said Dr. Christenson. 

The overall idea is to keep your kid's hands clean. Physicians still recommend soap and hot water but sanitizer can also help prevent sickness.

"You can apply it readily without having to bring the children to the sink, you can put hand sanitizer on them and let them roam around the daycare,” Dr. Christenson said.

If you're using sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. It'll say it somewhere on the bottle. And if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy, skip the sanitizer and head straight to the sink.