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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Hygiene

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Good in a pinch, they don’t beat soap and water and likely may not live up to marketing claims

A photo of a person squirting hand sanitizer out of a bottle onto their hands.
A photo of a person squirting hand sanitizer out of a bottle onto their hands.
Photo: Jananya Sriphairot/EyeEm/Getty Images

John Newsam rarely uses hand sanitizers. “Perhaps once every month or two,” he says. “And pretty much only when using a portaloo, when soap and water are not available.” Newsam is CEO of Tioga Research, which studies new formulas for everything from skin care products to topical drugs. With a PhD in chemistry from Oxford University, he knows that a good scrubbing with soap and water is the preferred method for ridding his hands of a wide range of infectious germs.

In a pinch, hand sanitizers are deemed useful by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but…


One physician’s advice on how to stay clean

Photo: PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier/Getty Images

The doctor’s white coat. Some might imagine it pressed and sparkling, radiating confidence and demanding respect — the very symbol of a figure who heals your illness and makes you feel better.

But how clean, really, is a white coat or any of a doctor’s clothes for that matter? Why do doctors wear them? How often are they washed? And how many doctors in scrubs and white coats carry germs from person to person, unknowingly infecting patients with viral or bacterial illness?

The answer might surprise you.

The history of the white coat

The white coat was a staple of highly successful doctors many generations before…


Misconceptions about hand-washing are as rampant as the germs themselves

A close up hand washing in the kitchen sink.
A close up hand washing in the kitchen sink.
Photo: Moyo Studio/E+/Getty Images

When a highly contagious stomach virus blew through a Colorado school district in November, sickening 30% of students and 20% of staff at one high school, some of the victims felt fine one hour and were vomiting in public the next. It was a reminder of how quickly viruses can make a lot of lives miserable. Especially during winter months. And especially when people don’t wash their hands often and properly.

Health experts agree that hand-washing is a vital defense against stomach-turning viruses, deadly bacteria, and other communicable germs including the flu, the common cold, and the particularly nasty norovirus…


What works, and what doesnt, in the quest to make yourself more illness-resistant

Credit: Maskot/Getty Images

The same aisle exists in pretty much any drugstore — the one with the powders, pills, chewable tablets, gummies, sprays, and drinks, all claiming to help you stave off or shorten illnesses.

It’s a comforting idea — that a heartier defense system is that close at hand — especially if you’re one of those people who always seems to be coming down with something. But as with almost all quick fixes, this one is mostly too good to be true. There’s no conclusive evidence that “megadosing” on vitamin C will keep you from getting sick. …

Elemental

Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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