Antibacterial hand soap is a hand soap which contains antibacterial ingredients. Formulated specifically for use on the hands, such soaps are often gentle enough to use on the face as well, and they can be utilized on the rest of the body too. Many drug stores carry antibacterial hand soap, and it is also available through medical suppliers, in a variety of formats, including large jugs which can be used to refill existing soap dispensers.
Like other antibacterial products, antibacterial hand soap contains ingredients which kill most bacteria on contact. When used correctly, the soap may be able to eliminate as much as 99% of the bacteria on the hands, making it far more effective than ordinary soap at bacteria removal. For the soap to be effective, it must be applied to the hands and rubbed briskly to work up a foam, and then rinsed in a flow of hot water which lasts at least 30 seconds. Removal of bacteria from the hands reduces the spread of bacteria between people, thereby cutting down on the spread of disease.
A classic use for antibacterial hand soap is medical environments like hospitals and clinics, where personnel wash their hands between patients so that they do not spread infection. Antibacterial hand soap is also stocked in facilities where people handle food, so that food handlers can wash their hands after using the bathroom or between handling different food products for consumer safety. Schools and other environments where lots of people gather may also have antibacterial hand soap in their bathrooms, and some people use it at home.
Typically, antibacterial hand soap is in liquid form, and it can be packaged in a variety of dispensers, including autodispensers which push soap out when someone waves his or her hand below a sensor. Antibacterial foaming cleanser is also available. Some hand soaps contain antibacterial ingredients, but hand soaps tend to be less than ideal for antibacterial purposes because they create films which can promote the growth of bacteria. In all cases, the ingredients may be chemical or natural, with chemical ingredients being far more effective.
Although antibacterial hand soap can be very useful, there are some risks to prolonged use of antibacterial products. Eliminating most of the bacteria from the hands also eliminates the competition for the remaining bacteria, which can contribute to the development of bacteria which resist antibiotics and cleaners. Excessive use of soaps can also dry out the hands, leading to dry, cracking skin. Switching brands on a regular basis can keep the development of resistant bacteria down, and using products with moisturizers will keep the hands smooth and supple.