Why soap, antiseptic and warm water help against COVID-19

Almost all of Europe and the United States is quarantined, the authorities urge citizens to stay home, and who never tires of talking about how important it is to wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. And this Board is definitely worth a listen because hand washing will not only help to slow the spread of COVID-19, but will be able to save mankind from other infections like flu and some other coronaviruses, writes CNN.

Virologist Dr John Williams, head of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the Medical center of the University of Pittsburgh Children’s hospital of Pittsburgh, says that there are four coronaviruses that circulate in humans each year. According to the Professor, these viruses cause about a third of colds, but they are not able to lead to death. Moreover, coronaviruses – not only harmful viruses that cause severe disease in humans. Such infections as influenza, annually claiming the lives of thousands of people around the world, and human metapneumovirus causing a respiratory infection that can lead to pneumonia, are also eliminated from our hands with soap and warm water.

But how, it would seem that such everyday things as warm water, soap and hand sanitizer help to cope with dangerous viruses? It’s all in the thoroughness of the wash and especially in the structure of the molecule of the virus.

Making soap and warm water?

If you look at the molecule of the coronavirus under a microscope, you can see that it is covered with pointed spires, which gives them the appearance of the crown – hence its name. Under the “crown” is the outer layer of the virus, which consists of lipids, or simply fat.

What if we imagine that the coronavirus is dirty dishes, covered with fat that you try to wash with plain water?

“You’re trying to wash your greasy dish water, but fat with it is not washed off.” – explained Williams. “You need a little soap to dissolve grease. Thus, soap or alcohol is very, very effective against dissolving that fat the coating liquid of the virus.”

The Professor explained that having lost the outer covering of the virus is inactivated and loses its ability to penetrate the human skin cells – thus the soap molecules destroy the virus.

The thing is, how are formed the molecules of soap – each of them has the shape of the sperm head and tail, where the head interacts with water, when the tail pushes it contacting with oil and fat. During rejection from the water, the tail is attracted to the fatty outside layer of the virus and its parts, like the axe that cuts the wood. After the outer layer of the virus or bacteria is damaged, the inner layer extends outward and connects with soapy water – then the bacteria dies.

Water and proper hand washing technique is very important as all of this in combination creates more bubbles that destroy the chemical bonds that allow bacteria, viruses and other microbes to stick to surfaces. Thanks to a thorough wash and the suds, the soap penetrates into every crevice and cranny on the skin and under the nails. However, to keep their hands completely clean, you want to wash them at least 20 seconds. Now when you rinse your hands with warm water, all microbes that were damaged, trapped or killed by the soap molecules, are washed away.

But why does it need the warm water? Even hot water is unable to kill all germs and bacteria, and a very high temperature just to injure the skin. Chemist bill West, associate Professor at Emory University, studying disinfectants, explained that the cold water will work, but at the same time, during hand washing, you will need to exert more effort because the soap is harder to lather.

Warm water with soap gives a much better lather and more bubbles.” said West. “This is an indication that the soap is trying to encapsulate dirt, bacteria and viruses that are in it.”

Making hand sanitizer alcohol-based?

Shaffner explained that disinfectants for hands, alcohol-based, can be just as effective as soap, if you use them correctly.

“They should be at least 60% alcohol.” – said Shaffner. “That alcohol is the cause of death of the virus.”

Shaffer said that is grind on the hands of one drop of antiseptic to destroy bacteria.

“RUB it on the hands, between the fingers and the backs of her hands.” says Shaffner.

West explained that antiseptic works because alcohol has other chemical properties. According to the chemist, alcohol helps to destroy the embryonic shell, but you need to make sure that it comes into direct contact with bacteria or viruses.

Williams said that there are situations where soap and water are the best option because of their ability to hold and wash the microorganisms.

“Alcohol is quite effective to kill germs, but he never washes them.” – he said. “So, you know, if someone just sneezed in his hand, and his hand was covered with slime, he would have to use a lot more alcohol to inactivate these bacteria or viruses. So, if someone’s hands visibly or heavily soiled, soap and water is better.”

This is particularly important because there are other bacteria whose molecules are not protected by a fatty outer coating, and they may be affected by bubbles. This infections such as hepatitis a, polio, meningitis and pneumonia.

Thanks to this simple and mundane as washing the hands thoroughly, mankind can rid yourself of many diseases that accompany it for hundreds of years.


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