7NEWS asks an expert: Is hand sanitizer hype or help in fighting the flu?
12:54 PM, Jan 16, 2013
AURORA, Colo. -
With the number of flu cases surging in Colorado, many families are depending on hand sanitizers as way to remain flu free.
7NEWS visited the infectious disease labs at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Aurora for expert advice on the effectiveness of alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel.
"Hand sanitizer or hand washing?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marc Stewart.
"They are both very effective as far as killing germs," replied infectious disease specialist, Dr. Michelle Barron.
"Alcohol has actually been shown to be a little bit better in terms of killing germs off your hands," Barron said. "If your hands are dirty or soiled, you really want to use soap and water because the alcohol can't get rid of all of the debris," she added.
Barron says the bottom line is to do what's convenient.
"If you're not doing it at all, you're not accomplishing anything,” the doctor said.
In order for a sanitizer gel to be effective, experts say it must contain at least 60 percent alcohol. The color or odor from sanitizers doesn't gauge effectiveness.