Although the public feel the swine flu outbreak has been hyped up by the media, they are still taking action to protect themselves against germs, according to a Mintel survey.

"They told us they thought swine flu was a bit of a storm in a teacup," says Mintel senior health and beauty analyst Alexandra Richmond. "However, concerns over their health and that of their family has led many of them to start carrying hand sanitisers and wipes with them."

Sales have rocketed. Superdrug reported a 70% year-on-year surge in sales of antibacterial hand-washing products in the week to 4 May 2009, according to a Mintel report on health and hygiene published last month. And Kimberly-Clark reported 1,000% year-on-year sales growth for its Kleenex Hygiene Kit, which includes anti-viral tissues and antibacterial hand foam, in the two weeks to the same date.

DCS Europe offshoot DCS Manufacturing, which makes both own-label health and beauty products and the brand Enliven, says sales for August, September and October have already exceeded the first six months of the year. "Our factory is working like mad to keep up with hand sanitiser demand, with extra shifts put in place and new staff recruited to man the lines," says DCS category manager David Hughes.

Vicks has been promoting its First Defence Protective Hand Foam, which it says can help protect against flu viruses for up to three hours, with TV ads and posters on trains and the Tube.

Reckitt Benckiser, meanwhile, has launched a £1.5m, 12-week campaign to promote the fact that its Dettol sprays and wipes kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.

Focus On Winter Remedies