How good is Cologne as a disinfectant

Whether at the train station, at the entrance to the supermarket or in the shopping arcade - disinfectants have been ubiquitous since the beginning of the corona pandemic. Before the partial lockdown in November, many Germans stocked up on disinfectants again; according to calculations by the Federal Statistical Office, sales at the end of October were more than double (+104 percent) compared to the previous year's average. If you want to buy a product in the drugstore, you will discover sprays, wipes, gels and disinfectants on the shelves. Do the different products work equally well and what should consumers look out for when buying? What helps against irritated skin and whether it makes sense to use disinfectants in the home, explains Dr. Stefan Michel, dermatologist in the practice for dermatology and urology Kastanienhof in Cologne.

How harmful is it to disinfect your hands?

"If your hands are not dirty, it is better to disinfect your hands instead of washing them to protect the skin," says Michel. Washing with soap will attack the skin more strongly because the fats in the skin are washed out by the soap. When disinfecting with alcoholic solutions, the fats in the top layer of skin are dissolved, but not washed out. In order to protect and care for the skin, disinfectants that contain panthenol make sense - it ensures that the protective layer of fat is retained in the skin. “You should apply lotion to your hands regularly. This can also be done after disinfecting. Creams with as few or no fragrances as possible are recommended. ”If the skin is very irritated from washing and disinfecting a lot, fragrances can additionally irritate the damaged skin. If the skin barrier is badly damaged, patients have to be careful that eczema does not develop, says the dermatologist. “The stinging of disinfectants, which some patients find unpleasant, only occurs when the skin is already damaged. The alcohol stings in the small wounds and cracks in the skin. "

What should I look out for when buying disinfectant?

In order not to unnecessarily irritate the skin, products with fragrances should be avoided. These can lead to allergies in sensitive people, says Michel. "An important quality feature for effective disinfectants is the note 'VAH-certified' or 'VAH-listed'", it says on the website Infektionsschutz.de of the Federal Center for Health Education. It is best to buy certified products in the pharmacy. So that a disinfectant is also effective against the coronavirus, it is important to make sure that the agent is also "virucidal". Some products can only kill bacteria, but not viruses.

Spray, gel, wipes or liquid - which disinfectant is best?

Whether spray, wipes, gel or liquid disinfectant - the dosage form has no influence on how compatible the product is for the skin, says Michel. But when it comes to effectiveness, it depends on it and on the correct application. The disinfectant liquids are the most common and are also used in hospitals. The advantage: it can be easily distributed in the hand. "For a sufficient disinfection effect, about three milliliters of liquid should be poured into your hands and distributed for at least 30 seconds." “Gels are just as effective as liquid disinfectants. It is a matter of taste whether you prefer to use gel or liquid, ”says the dermatologist. With disinfectant wipes it is difficult to find the right dosage. "It can happen that they are too dry to wet the whole skin." If you have a package with the towels in your pocket or in the cloakroom, the alcohol may evaporate when the package is opened Cloths become too dry or even dry out. The agent is also atomized with sprays - disinfectant is lost on the way to hand. "How much disinfectant is really on the hand, whether it is sufficient and whether, for example, the fingertips are moistened enough, is questionable," says Michel.

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Do detergents and cleaning agents that contain disinfectants make sense for the home?

“Other active ingredients such as ammonium are used in surface disinfectants. In addition, other concentrations are used, which is why they should only be used with gloves. ”This is only needed in hospitals, says the dermatologist. If a person in the household is infected with a highly contagious disease, it could make sense to also disinfect surfaces, according to Infektionsschutz.de. This could be useful in the case of gastrointestinal flu, for example, and you should disinfect toilet flush buttons, taps, doorknobs and possibly light switches that are used by several people in the household.