The highly infectious novel coronavirus is showing no signs of slowing down in India. With the number of cases soaring over 50, manufacturers are facing a huge number of new orders for hand sanitisers. The result? Store shelves are empty as supplies dwindle. To add to the woes, pharmacies have little estimate of when sanitisers might become available. Ragini Agarwal, who owns a natural bath and body products range, says, “With the coronavirus scare reaching its peak, the situation is really worrisome. So, I decided to make natural sanitiser at home with ingredients like aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil and lemon extracts. People have used the product and given positive feedback. It is safe to use on babies as well — I am cleansing my toddler’s hands with it.”
While sanitisers are handy and can be used on the go if you don’t have access to running water, many feel that soap poses as a better defense against germs than a natural sanitiser. Kolkatans are certain that at some point they may have no choice. Sneha Das, a resident of Dhakuria, is making alcohol-based sanitisers at home. “I am making them at home since no pharmaceutical shops near my residence have them in stock. While the ingredients are a few, it is important to keep safety in mind while making them at home. Gloves are a must,” she says.
Aishwarya Biswas, who also makes natural handmade soaps, face washes and creams, says, “Though hand sanitisers are convenient, anti-bacterial soaps are much more effective in getting rid of germs. Not only do they kill the germs, but the water also washes away into the sewage. People have become very conscious in the wake of the epidemic. They are avoiding alcohol-based beauty products and opting for plant-based ones.”
Five easily available ingredients for hand sanitisers
1. Aloe vera extract
2. Vitamin E essential oil
3. Tea tree
4. Cinnamon or clove essential oil
5. Distilled water
‘Around 50 to 60 people are asking for hand sanitisers daily’
Most of the medicine shops are out of stock on hand sanitisers. We are not getting supplies from the manufacturing companies. The demand has spiked exponentially and the price-gouging on e-commerce sites has also contributed to more people thronging pharmacies. Every day, around 50 to 60 people are asking for hand sanitisers. At this point, there’s little clarity as to when we will be able to restock on supplies. We are planning to put up a signboard that reads ‘hand sanitisers out of stock’.
— Somnath Mukherjee, a chemist from Lake Gardens
DIY natural hand sanitiser with alcohol
l 2/3 cup of 99% rubbing alcohol
(isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol
l 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel
l 8 to 10 drops of essential oil
Do not rely on homemade therapies, say doctors
Any soap or alcohol-based hand sanitiser is good but one should not blindly rely on homemade therapies or naturopathy at this hour of crisis, say doctors. “Soaps, be it solid or liquid, are more effective than homemade hand sanitiser,” says Dr Pinaki Chakraborty, a general physician.
Dermatologists are of the opinion that homemade hand sanitisers are neither too skin-friendly nor too effective. “They can burn the epidermis, cause
rashes, irritation or excessive dryness. In the US, people make hand sanitisers at home using vodka. Those are not useful since vodka has only 42% of alcohol content, whereas a hand sanitiser must have a mininum alcohol content of 90% to kill germs,” says Dr Basab Sahana, a consultant dermatologist.
MNC Offices amp up safety measures
A sanitiser dispenser has been installed at the entry point of our office in Alipore. It’s mandatory for everyone to disinfect their hands. Biometric entry devices have also been discontinued temporarily to contain the spread of the virus.
— Satadru Sen, an officer-goer at Alipore
Making your own alcohol-based sanitiser may be risky
Making your own alcohol-based hand sanitiser at home can be a dangerous idea since it’s important to get the concentrations of the mixture correct. Isopropyl alcohol, which is a common alcohol used in hand sanitisers, can cause skin complications. It can excessively dry the skin or cause superficial burns. It’s also flammable, so one must not mix the ingredients near an open flame or heat source.
Source: Times of India