How Long Are Colds Contagious: How Hand Sanitizer Can Help?

We’ve been dealing with COVID-19 for almost an entire year. It’s become the subtext of practically every conversation we have, as we learn to practice keeping ourselves and others safe amidst a pandemic. 

Meanwhile, other illnesses, like the common cold, have become seemingly extinct, at least in our day to day conversations. However, even though we aren’t talking about them as much, cold viruses still exist and can still make us sick. 

While we are still actively battling COVID-19, it’s important to also be mindful of taking care of ourselves when we catch a cold, or when others are feeling under the weather. 

Colds are incredibly contagious, and even though you’re likely practicing social distancing and mask wearing to help slow the spread of COVID-19, you’re still at risk of catching (and spreading) colds. 

Hope Health Supply provides products to help you keep yourself and your family not just during the pandemic, but during cold and flu season, too. We’ll give you some facts about colds you might not know, including how long they are contagious, what you can do to help prevent from spreading them, and how hand sanitizer is a great tool in the fight. 

Facts About Colds

They make us miserable. They usually start out with a runny nose and sore throat, and within a day you’re feverish, tired, congested, and have an overall feeling of general malaise. You may end up with sneezing, coughing, and itchy, watery eyes. 

Here’s some fast facts about colds, how they work, and how they spread. 

How Do I Know If I Have a Cold, or Something Else?

It can be hard to tell whether you have a cold, the flu, or something else. Generally, the symptoms for cold and flu are very much alike. However, the symptoms you experience when you have the flu generally last longer and feel worse than they do with a common cold. 

You may experience a higher fever that doesn’t come down with over-the-counter fever reducers, chills and body aches, and worsening symptoms over a few days if you have the flu or something other than a cold. 

The only sure way you can know if you have the flu is to get a flu test from a healthcare professional. 

How Long Are Colds Contagious?

You can spread a cold before you even have symptoms. You are capable of spreading a cold virus between 1-2 days before you ever experience your first cold symptom. You remain contagious as long as your symptoms are present.

Because you can have a cold for two weeks, you could be contagious that entire time, although most of the time, your symptoms will dissipate and you won’t be contagious after about 7-10 days. 

How Do Colds Spread?

It might be easier to cover how colds do not spread! Colds are incredibly contagious and can spread like wildfire through families, classrooms, social groups, and the like. 

Colds spread through respiratory droplets passed from sneezing and coughing, and also through the stool of an infected person. Cold viruses can live on surfaces for up to seven days, which makes it very easy for you to become infected if you touch a surface contaminated with cold virus. 

How Does Hand Sanitizer Help?

When you’re sick or around someone who is, you need tools in your arsenal to keep from spreading germs. 

Hand sanitizer is a great way to help prevent the spread of the common cold via hand to hand, hand to face, or hand to surface contact. Here’s how.

It’s Your Go-To Between Washes

Hand washing is one of the best ways to stay healthy and avoid spreading germs that cause cold and flu. Sometimes, however, you just can’t make it to a sink (like when you’re driving or changing equipment at the gym). 

When you can’t wash with soap and water, hand sanitizer is the perfect way to rid your hands of germs and bacteria.

It’s Effective

Hand sanitizer is incredibly effective. In fact, it can remove up to 99.99% of germs and bacteria on your hands, provided it has the right formula. 

For a hand sanitizer to be effective in removing germs and bacteria from your hands, it needs to contain at least 60% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. If you want to use your hand sanitizer spray to sanitize a surface other than your hands, it should have a concentration of 70%. 

*A note about homemade hand sanitizer: At the onset of COVID-19, hand sanitizer became a hot commodity, and it was extremely hard to find. As such, the World Health Organization offered a recipe for homemade hand sanitizer. 

It should be noted though, that this was never intended to replace commercially produced hand sanitizer; it was only provided as a “last resort” if you could not get access to hand sanitizer. 

Making your own hand sanitizer can be difficult, and if you get the formula wrong, you could end up with hand sanitizer that isn’t effective, and is possibly harmful. 

It’s Convenient

It really doesn’t get much more convenient than hand sanitizer, especially the kind offered right here at Hope Health Supply. Our small, pocket-sized bottles allow you to stash a hand sanitizer anywhere you can think of, like in backpacks, purses, gym bags, car consoles, desk drawers, and even by the bathroom sink for kids who sometimes forget to wash! 

It Can Sanitize Non-Porous Surfaces

If your hand sanitizer contains at least 70% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol, you can use it to sanitize certain non-porous surfaces, like your cell phone screen, tablet, doorknobs, or steering wheel.

We all know how dirty commonly touched surfaces can become, and if you have a hand sanitizer spray, you can easily sanitize frequently touched surfaces in an instant by simply misting the surface and allowing it to dry. 

What Else To Do To Prevent the Spread of Colds

Besides using hand sanitizer, there are other measures you can take to help prevent the spread of colds. 

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Part of good hand hygiene is washing your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water. You should wash your hands for at least twenty seconds to make sure they are adequately clean. 
  • When you are sick, stay home. You shouldn’t go to work or school when you are sick, and it’s best to stay home and isolated while you are symptomatic. If you must go out, be sure to wear a mask and keep your distance from others. Remember to keep your hands clean before touching surfaces that could be touched by someone else.
  • Keep your hands away from your face. Hand to face contact is one of the most common ways we get sick. Keep your hands away from your face as much as possible, and only touch your face with clean hands. 

The Takeaway

Colds can be contagious for up to two weeks, and you might be able to spread a cold a day before you even experience symptoms. When you’re under the weather, take measures to stay away from others and avoid spreading germs. 

Hand sanitizer can help you keep your hands germ free between washes. Hope Health Supply carries convenient, pocket-sized hand sanitizer spray that contains 75% ethyl alcohol. Our hand sanitizer is great for hands and non-porous surfaces. 

We’re all in this together, and using hand sanitizer and taking preventive measures to keep others safely away from our germs is a great way to spread love, not germs.