With coronavirus officially now in the UK, many concerned Brits have rushed out this week to buy hand sanitiser in a desperate attempt to reduce their risk of the virus.
While regularly washing your hands and using hand sanitiser can reduce transmission of the virus, experts are now warning that overdoing it can actually increase your risk of infection.
Speaking to Kyodo News , a spokesperson for chemical products company Kao Corporation , explained that excessively using alcohol-based hand sanitisers could remove ‘normal bacterial flora’ that coat the skin and fend off pathogens.
The spokesperson explained: “Of course, it is necessary to wash hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitisers in order to reduce transmission of the new virus, but overdoing anything is not good.”
Hand sanitisers usually contain 60 to 95% alcohol, which helps to keep hands free of bacteria and viruses.
However, this alcohol also deprives the skin of oil and water, and can result in very dry skin.
The spokesperson added: “Dry and damaged skin could become a hotbed of disease bacteria and also increase the risk of viruses entering the body through cuts in the skin.
"To prevent infection, it is much more important to wash hands with a moderate amount of soap for more than 30 seconds in an effective manner than to wash hands several times a day.”
After washing your hands, it’s also important to make sure you dry them thoroughly.
Leaving your hands wet could lead to skin disorders, making it easier for viruses to cling to your hands, according to the spokesperson.
Aside from keeping your hands clean, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have also advised regularly cleaning all 'high-touch' surfaces.
On its website it explained: "High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
"Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them."
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