Do I Need To Use Hand Sanitizers And Antibacterial Products To Avoid A Cold?

Question: Do I need to use hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps and other products to avoid catching a cold?

Answer: It's a very good question. There's no question that good hand hygiene or keeping your hands clean is one of the very effective ways to prevent colds and flu. But it turns out that just plain old soap and water is as good as fancy antibacterial soaps and there's no need to buy antibacterial soaps. Now, hand gels and hand sanitizers are a very effective alternative to soap and water when you don't have access to soap and water.

The next question people want to know is: how often and when should I wash my hands? It's most important in places where we know that you transmit a lot of viruses and that's the home, schools, and the obvious times: after using the bathroom and before eating or preparing food. Other times in which you might want to think about cleaning your hands during cold and flu season is after you've shaken hands with someone who's sick or picked up tissues or cared for a sick child.

Next: What Are Symptoms Of A Cold, And How Do They Differ From Symptoms Of The Flu?

Andrew Pavia, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine
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