Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, hydroalcoholic gel has become an absolute necessity for everyone. Indeed, rubbing hands with this solution is part of the barrier gestures to fight against covid-19 and other viruses. Before the spread of this new virus, many people were unaware of its existence when it was invented twenty years ago.

The origin of the hydroalcoholic gel

Let's go back in history. It was in 1847 that the first measures were introduced in the medical field thanks to the Viennese obstetrician Ignace Philippe Semmelweis. He demonstrated the need for health personnel to disinfect their hands by, among other things, the use of a calcium hypochlorite solution.

This practice changed when a cardiology intern named Peter Kalmar found that this did not maintain hand sterility. He then sought the help of a chemist named Rolf Steinhagen to make a disinfectant product that had a fast but effective bactericidal action and that lasted without any harmful effects on the hands. Together they succeeded in making a disinfectant solution. The product was launched on the market in June 1965 and was called "Sterillium".

In 1975, a hydroalcoholic solution based on isopropanol and chlorexidine was proposed by William Groffiths. The University Hospitals of Geneva introduced this formula within their establishment in 1979.

Finally, it was in 1995 that this formulation was popularized with the WHO by the Swiss infectious disease physician and epidemiologist Didier Pittet. Since then, hydroalcoholic gel has been used in almost all hospitals worldwide. But it became the "in" product from the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

The uses of hydroalcoholic gel

Sterile base, the hydroalcoholic gel is intended to limit the proliferation of bacteria in humans. Moreover, its use does not dispense with hand washing with soap, which is an effective detergent.

Here are the components of the hydroalcoholic solutions:

Alcohol with rapid action against viruses, bacteria and fungi;

Emollient to keep hands free from harmful effects;

An antiseptic.

Anyone is allowed to use the gel, whether they are an individual or a health professional. Its use is unlimited, anywhere and anytime. But it is during epidemic periods such as these that its use must be promoted and encouraged.

Simple to use, it is enough to respect a few basic criteria: clean, unsoiled and above all dry hands. Moisture reduces the antiseptic effect of alcohol. Next, pour hydroalcoholic gel on the palm of your hand and rub your hands palm to palm, the back of your hands, then between your fingers and thumb. The friction lasts at least 30 seconds until the hands are dry.

There is no limit to the frequency of use before eating or after bowel movements.

Precautions to take before using the hydroalcoholic gel

Although there are no contraindications, these solutions should be used with caution, especially with children. They are fragile, and even a minor incident can cause a problem with their health. It is normal that you want to protect your children from all bacteria and viruses, but it is necessary that your hands are dry before any handling concerning the baby. This is because the solutions are highly dosed in alcohol.

Hydroalcoholic gel is a non-allergenic solution, but can cause problems for people with skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis. Its main component, alcohol, can aggravate the inflammation already present.

Many people tend to think that the hydroalcoholic solution can be used to disinfect a wound. However, it is quite the opposite because it can hurt. When you have a wound on your hands, it's best to choose the traditional solution: washing your hands with soap and water.

Finally, the shelf life of a bottle is one month after opening. Even if you close the cap immediately after each use, the solution inside is no longer sterile. Once the one-month period has passed, discard the bottle.

The advantages of hydroalcoholic gel to fight viruses

The hydroalcoholic gel is very useful when you don't have time to wash your hands with soap and water. The majority of viruses are transmitted through human contact. This is not only skin-to-skin contact, but skin-to-material contact as well.