May 1, 2009 at 2:38 pm #1236031
While reading this New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/21/health/21cons.html?_r=1
I came across this CDC suggestion:
"How much goop should you use? Vigorously rub all sides of your hands with enough gel or foam to get them wet, and rub them together until they are dry. If your hands are dry within 10 or 15 seconds, according to the C.D.C. guidelines for health care workers, you haven't used enough."
The article also recommends 60% or more alcohol in the solution.
I haven't carried/used that much sanitzer. I'm wondering if I should just keep what I carry in a medical kit. I'm not a health worker, I just don't want to get the crud.
How much do you use/bring? Or, do you bring soap only?May 1, 2009 at 2:54 pm #1498384
I bring about 1/2 oz and that lasts about 6 days, and I'm sure that is not enough according to your information. However, since I'm not touching bathroom door handles, telephones, or other things that are normally found in the home or office enivironment I'm ok with the additional risk…..and I've never run into any swine with the swine flu in the wilderness.
Only once did I run into a rather ill looking hiker at buckskin pass on the maroon belles circuit, but carrying a huge 50lb pack up above 13K while being a good 20lbs overweight would make anyone a little green!
Oh, and if I drop food – 5 second rule. Sometimes, I'll even blow the dirt off before I eat it too, LOL.
Brian J.May 1, 2009 at 3:00 pm #1498386
Mad 1960s American idea – sterilise everything… which just leads to worse illnesses in the long run. You lose your immune system and natural disease resistance.
What CDC are talking about may be appropriate for a surgical ward, but is NOT required for out back. Fwiiw, I rinse my hands with water before cooking food, and will use a touch of soap after going to the toilet, but that's all.
In fact, I don't think walkers in Australia ever carry 'sanitiser'. Soap, yes ( I hope), but tha's all.
CheersMay 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm #1498397
@thangfishLocale: S. Central NC, USA
> Mad 1960s American idea – sterilise everything… which just leads to worse illnesses in the long run. You lose your immune system and natural disease resistance.
I tend to agree with that.
I seem to remember reading a study that actually bears this out.May 1, 2009 at 4:13 pm #1498401
@tbeasleyLocale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
>In fact, I don't think walkers in Australia ever carry 'sanitiser'. Soap, yes ( I hope), but tha's all.
I have seen a few walkers use sanitisers here in OZ, including some experienced heavy weighters that I walked with a few weeks ago.
TonyMay 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm #1498417
Alochol gels are no substitute for hand washing, though if you can't wash they're better than nothing, especially if you know their limitations.
The "gold standard" for cleanliness is hand washing with soap and water (there's a proper technique which takes about ten seconds to perform). This process works by making your skin slippery so bacteria, viruses and inert material slide off; nothing's actually killed. Alcohol gels are potentially less effective because they only kill what's on the surface, and if the germs are embedded in a three dimensional matrix (like dirt) those in the interior are less affected or not at all.
Anti-microbial soaps are not significantly more effective than regular soap and have the downside of potentially making the germ population more resistant.
I would be neither cavalier nor obsessive about cleanliness. But if you put your hands to your mouth or eyes you should be aware of what might be on them.
[Referenced but not quoted from the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, an excellent monthly read.]May 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm #1498419
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Polio became a problem when people started getting too sanitary.
I try to rinse well with water after the toilet and then use generous hand sanitizer. I've been pretty amazed at how much is actually in one of those trial sized bottles. Perhaps adding a touch of soap wouldn't be such a bad idea. I've been thinking I would start carrying a tiny bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid. I think I could even wash my hair with that. Diluted well, of course.May 1, 2009 at 10:50 pm #1498483
If you are just worrying about yourself, and this is the only way of cleaning your hands you are bringing (which is just fine) I recommend you go with 0.25 Oz. for an overnighter, and thats enough for a little drop every time you use a cathole, eat/cook food, cleaning your feet, or freshsning up. Used conservitevly, you really don't need to bring much.
Hope that helps you.May 1, 2009 at 11:58 pm #1498488
I honestly have never brought sanitizer, and rarely even bring soap. Maybe I'm a dirty guy and more prone to getting sick? But I've never had any problems.
However, one of my buddies brings Wet Wipes/Wet Naps rather than toilet paper and it is amazing. Look into that as a "luxury item".May 2, 2009 at 11:26 am #1498530
The "Wet Wipes" or "Wet Ones" work great as a hand sanitizer and as TP(they feel pretty good up your butt after a long day of hiking too). They come in individual foil packets for cheap which makes them quite convenient to use and pack.
cheersMay 2, 2009 at 12:22 pm #1498539
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
"Mad 1960s American idea – sterilise everything… which just leads to worse illnesses in the long run. You lose your immune system and natural disease resistance."
Yup. Soap, gel, etc. are some of those things I never pack along. When my hands are obviously dirty I just give 'em a good scrubbing with wet sand or a snowball (the latter is also good as emergency TP). However, when I start smelling like the old goat that I am, then I use Wet Naps for a quick sponge bath.May 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm #1499005
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
Interesting posts all.
I've gone on plenty of soapless/alcohol sanitizerless trips where I just was "very very careful" and not had a problem.
Having said that, I think post-toilet is an important time to wash, particularly with a group, since unwashed hands can spread nasties. From what I've read, it's more important to wash one's hands than it is to treat one's water (in N. American wildernesses).
I've avoided soap since it can get into the water table, but good to be reminded how much more effective it is than sanitizer. Perhaps if used in very small quantities, soap won't cause too much harm.
The one thing I do NOT do is use soap to "do the dishes." I've heard some debate on the subject, but I've been hiking and BP'ing dish soapless since the 70's and have never had a problem. Seems likes doing the dishes with soap would put a lot of soap into the environment.May 4, 2009 at 2:45 pm #1499024
@rezniemLocale: San Francisco
I find hard to believe that it is more important to wash your hands than treat your water. When you know there are bugs in the water. Where are the germs coming from, uh, post restroom use? Seems like it would only be a problem if someone had a virus/tapeworm/etc. that could be transmitted this way, and if you are going solo, you can't re-infect yourself if you have something. (Hep A is spread this way I believe, but ONLY if someone in the group HAS Hep A.)
Washing your hands is probably not as important as we believe it to be in the backcountry, however, and especially in the group, it is necessary (at least for me) because not doing so is icky.May 4, 2009 at 2:58 pm #1499028
@cbertLocale: N. California
we can infect ourselves and others with bacteria from our lower intestinal tract – e-coli for example. i read somewhere once that there is enough e-coli in any one of us to kill some grossly large number of humans. however, i've also read that it is usually (but not always) a non-pathogenic strain of e-coli & that most of our gut flora is anaerobic & so not a concern once exposed to air.
so perhaps post-potty washing IS more important than purifying drinking water, depending on how your own garden grows.May 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm #1499029
> I find hard to believe that it is more important to wash your hands than treat your water.
This is just my own opinion, but I have to say I think you are completely and utterly WRONG!
> Where are the germs coming from, uh, post restroom use?
EXACTLY! Your bowels contain a huge colony of all sorts of bugs (bacteria) which are a vital part of you. They are a major component of your digestive system. Without them you starve to death.
BUT, they belong in your intestines! If you get them into your stomach (via your hands) they cause huge distress to you: gastro and worse. You can literally die from them, and thousands of small children in Africa and Asia (and other places) do die this way each year. A simple lack of basic hygiene and clean water.
Why can't they get into your stomach from your intestines? Because there is a valve there to stop them.
You don't have to 'sanitise' your hands with alcohol; just rinsing them clean is often enough. One of the things soap does is to assist in loosening up dirt and grease from your skin: that is probably its main benefit. And as someone else pointed out, dilute alcohol may not even work as well.
Wash your hands!
CheersMay 4, 2009 at 3:07 pm #1499031
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
Evidence-Based Medicine in the Wilderness: The Safety of Backcountry Water
Thomas R. Welch, MD
If our objective is to protect the backcountry user from enteric infection, then we should emphasize the overwhelming evidence showing that assiduous hand-washing or using alcohol-based hand cleansers is by far the most important strategy. It must be impressed upon backpackers (just as it is impressed upon health care, food industry, and daycare workers) that stopping hand-to-mouth spread is the key to preventing gastrointestinal infection. Diluting this message with unfounded concerns about wilderness water quality or the relative merits of various water-treatment methods serves no useful purpose.May 5, 2009 at 12:17 pm #1499219
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I began carrying hand sanitizer on hikes and backpacking trips about 3 years ago. I carry a 2 oz. bottle in my potty kit. That always lasts me for a one week (7 day) trip for just potty duty. This includes occasional use on toilet paper to avoid the dreaded "monkey butt" syndrome.
In addition I discovered on a Grand Canyon backpack that massaging the feet with hand sanitizer at night is SOOOO refreshing and odor defeating. (Pun intended)
Hand-to-mouth contamination is the main problem. Bio-degradable soap ends up being NOT an anti-bacterial agent but a mere surficant. Plus you use a similar amount of soap per use v.s sanitizer so only the sanitizer container is extra weight.
As current National Ski Patrol alpine and former Nordic patroller I'm well schooled on out-of-area first aid anti-bacterial products. Sanitizer is GOOD – better than mere soap for many things.
EricMay 5, 2009 at 1:09 pm #1499235
At some point before I die, I guess I should get concerned with all this. I can't believe I've made it 50 years without worrying. Kind of shocking that anyone survived the pre-sanitizer years.May 6, 2009 at 12:37 am #1499355
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"At some point before I die, I guess I should get concerned with all this. I can't believe I've made it 50 years without worrying. Kind of shocking that anyone survived the pre-sanitizer years."
I never even heard of hand sanitizer until reading about it here on BPL. And I have made almost 60 years without it, so no need to start now.May 6, 2009 at 3:14 am #1499372
You said it, Nick!
CheersMay 6, 2009 at 8:14 pm #1499593
@surnailzLocale: White Mountains
First off, for those of you who haven't used hand sanitizer before, have you used soap for post bathroom breaks in the past instead?
My go-to for washing hands has been water and Dr. Bronner's liquid soap in a small BPL dropper. This has worked quite well, and it serves to wash up more than just the hands, including the teeth!
This thought did come to me recently regarding the alcohol based hand sanitizer vs. soap debate: if we look at the weight of the two options, if you consider the weight of the water and soap you must carry in order to wash your hands vs. the weight of the sanitizer you would carry instead, the sanitizer looks like the better option to have for those times when you use the cathole a ways from a water source. Because of this, I've started carrying a small bottle of sanitizer, along with the Dr. B for more general cleaning needs. Sanitizer also has a slight edge in convenience in that it can be used with the clean hand where as I find it hard to use the soap and water with only one hand.
-jimMay 6, 2009 at 9:47 pm #1499609
deletedMay 6, 2009 at 9:51 pm #1499611
>"You don't have to 'sanitise' your hands with alcohol; just rinsing them clean is often enough."
I agree even though I chose to take alchohol gel anyways…skin itself is a very good protector as long as it is not open. A rinsing is good enough but the alchohol leaves your hands feeling refreshed and clean. :)
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