Hand Washing: Your Health Is In Your Hands

When it comes to preventing the spread of contagious disease, hand washing is the primary and most effective defense strategy.

In the not so distant past, an Epidemic of Ebola broke out in the country. One of the precautionary measures that was consistently given out to halt the spread of the scourge was the importance of washing your hands. Thankfully, Ebola is behind us but washing your hands ought to be a steady routine.

When it comes to preventing the spread of contagious disease, hand washing is the primary and most effective defense strategy. The key is to do it, and to do it properly, using the right products and techniques. Not only will it help keep you healthy, it will help avert the spread of infectious diseases to others.

In a recent poll on our twitter page, only 52 percent of respondents said they wash their hands after using the bathroom. Even if your hands don’t appear to be dirty, there are germs on them. These germs can make you ill when they move from your hands into your body through your mouth, nose, eyes and open wounds. Washing your hands can largely help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes that cause infections such as influenza (the “flu”), Diarrhea, and the common cold amongst others. Here is how to do it rightly:

Using Soap and Water:

Your technique for washing your hands is just as important as when you wash them.  Rinsing your hands is not enough.  By rubbing your hands vigorously with soapy water, you pull the dirt and other impurity from your skin.

  • Remove any rings or other jewelry.
  • Use water and wet your hands thoroughly.
  • Use soap and lather very well.
  • Scrub your hands, between your fingers, wrists, and forearms with soap for 15 seconds.
  • Scrub under your nails.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • Dry your hands with a single use towel or air dryer.
  • Turn off the taps/faucets with a paper towel.
  • Protect your hands from touching dirty surfaces as you leave the bathroom

 

Using Alcohol Based Hand Rubs:

An alcohol-based hand rub is the next best option if soap and water are not available. If your hands are visibly soiled, it is best to use soap and water. If it’s not possible to wash with soap and water, use paper towels to remove the soil, then use an alcohol-based hand rub.

  • Make sure your hands are dry, as wet hands will dilute the product.
  • Apply hand rub to palm of one hand.
  • Rub hands together covering all surfaces of hands and fingers.
  • Rub until hand rub is absorbed.

 

Further Steps:

Here are further steps you can take to protect yourself and your family

  • Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing or using tissues, before and after eating, before preparing food, after handling raw meat, after petting an animal, and after using the bathroom
  • Cover cuts with bandages and wear gloves for added protection (cuts are very vulnerable to infections).
  • Artificial nails and chipped nail polish have been associated with an increase in the number of bacteria on the fingernails. Be sure to clean the nails properly.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Keep the surface areas in your home and office germ free by cleaning them. Doorknobs, light switches, telephones, and keyboards are especially important to keep clean.
  • If you have children, teach them good hygiene and how to wash their hands properly. Young children should be supervised while washing their hands.
  • Don’t use sponges or non-disposable cleaning cloths unless you change them daily and launder them using detergent. Germs thrive on moist surfaces.
  • Liquid soap in disposable containers is best. If using reusable containers, they should be washed and dried before refilling. If using a bar of soap, be sure to set it on a rack that allows water to drain or use small bars that can be changed frequently.