Chances are you’ve been doing this since you were a child. Your parents demanded you do it before eating and after going to the bathroom. You probably do this a few times daily without even thinking about it.
Have you guessed it yet? Yes, hand washing.
Have you ever paid attention to how much you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth in even an hour’s time? Viruses and bacteria are commonly spread through these areas of the body.
Not convinced? These are just some of the microbes spread by the hands:
- Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA)
- Hepatitis A virus
- Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Strep)
By simply being in contact with a person infected with these menacing-sounding microbes you and those around you could become infected.
According to the Center for Disease Control, proper hand washing reduces instances getting sick with diarrhea by 31 percent. In addition, respiratory illnesses like colds are reduced by 16-21 percent.
When should you wash your hands?
- Before, during, and after preparing foods, especially raw meats
- Before eating
- Before or after caring for the sick
- After using the bathroom
- Before and after treating a wound
- When finished changing diapers or soiled clothes
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- When contacting garbage, animals, or pet food
What is the best hand washing technique?
The Center for Disease Control suggests these steps:
- Wet your hands with clean running water
- Lather your hands by rubbing them with soap. Include the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub at least twenty seconds. Hum “Happy Birthday” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” twice for a frame of reference.
- Rinse your hands completely under running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dryer.
Hand washing with these easy steps will prevent the spread of infection and keep you healthy.
What about hand sanitizers?
Properly washing hands is the most effective way to get rid of germs and microbes. If a clean water supply and soap are not available, hand sanitizers are another option. These are best used when hands are not visibly dirty.
Your parents were right. Hand washing could be the easiest thing you do to keep from getting sick. By doing it the right way, you prevent the spread of microbes like bacteria and viruses to you and your loved ones.