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Do hand sanitisers need alcohol to be effective?

Do hand sanitisers need alcohol to be effective?

April 17, 2020

Do hand sanitisers need alcohol to be effective? 

How to best protect yourself from germs and keep your skin soft.


How do alcohol based hand sanitisers work?


Most hand sanitisers use alcohol as their active ingredient. Alcohol based hand sanitisers are believed to work by impairing the function of the proteins in microbes, disrupting the cell’s metabolism.


Alcohol effectively kills most germs and bacteria, however you might have noticed that your hands feel dry after using alcohol based hand sanitisers. This is because alcohol can strip away the skin’s natural oils that acts as a protective layer to the skin, reducing the healthy fatty compounds on the outer layer of the skin and impairing the skin barrier function. 


What happens when the skin barrier is damaged?


When the skin barrier is damaged this can lead to dryness, redness, irritation and sensitized skin. As well as being uncomfortable, cracked or broken skin could also increase the risk of skin infections.


What is the alternative to alcohol based hand sanitiser?


The FDA has approved only three active ingredients for hand sanitisers. In addition to ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol the FDA approved benzalkonium chloride (BZK). 


Unlike the alcohols, BZK does not dry out the skin. Daily Shield uses BZK as the active ingredient because it doesn’t strip the skin of its natural oils, meaning it’s low irritant and non-drying and keeps the skin barrier functioning properly.


How does benzalkonium chloride (BZK) work?


The active ingredient used in Daily Shield, BZK, uses a physical process of rupturing the lipid shell around micropes. This is the outer wall of the cell, and once it’s ruptured it can’t be reformed. This kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria, and importantly because of the puncturing process there’s no risk of antimicrobial resistance, so it doesn’t lose efficacy with ongoing use.




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