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Hand Foam Fights Bacteria Better

Sanitizing Product Under Development Uses Triclosan as Its Active Ingredient
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept 19, 2007 (Chicago) -- A new hand foam fights bacteria better and longer than commercially available alcohol gels, researchers report.

The new foam wiped out more than twice as much bacteria as a traditional hand gel, says Duane Charbonneau, PhD, a research fellow at Procter & Gamble, which is developing the product and funded the work.

The new product, which is low in alcohol, has triclosan, an antimicrobial used in toothpaste and hand creams, as its active ingredient.

"It's no substitute for hand washing, but it provides a good way to fight off bugs when soap and water are not available," Charbonneau tells WebMD.

The research was presented at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Bacteria Levels Drop

The study included 16 volunteers. After they washed with soap and water, they were asked to hold a raw chicken in their hands. Then, they placed their palms onto the surface of a Petri dish and the researchers measured the amount of bacteria.

Then the process was repeated, with one change. Before they put their hand on the Petri dish, they cleansed with an alcohol gel.

Results showed the level of bacteria was 30% lower than when the gel wasn't used.

The third time around the new foam was substituted for the alcohol gel. This time bacteria levels dropped 75%.

A second study showed that the new hand foam continues to fight germs for up to three hours after administration.

That's longer than typically would be expected with hand sanitizers that utilize alcohol as the active ingredient, Charbonneau says.

Larry Pickering, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the CDC in Atlanta, tells WebMD, "It looks like this cuts through the grease."

Hand sanitizers are particularly useful in hospitals, day care centers, and other bacteria-rich locations, especially when soap and water isn't readily available, he adds.

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