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Wash Your Hands for Good Health: When and How

No one thinks twice before washing hands, as it is done instinctively without any conscious thought process. Unfortunately not many realize that there is a correct procedure of washing hands that can reduce infections, and spreading of illness to a great extent. A little time spent washing the hands can save a person the expensive trips to hospitals.

Importance of Washing Hands

Germs are there everywhere around us, though they are not visible to naked eyes. Diapers, air, water, food, surfaces and our own bodies are host to them. Bacteria and viruses can survive from days to weeks on the surface they have infected, giving them ample time to multiply and spread.

The extensive use of hands for our everyday activities, allows them to touch surfaces which can be dirty and infected. It could be almost impossible to keep them germs free for more than few hours under any condition. It is apparent that no other body part gets more exposure to bacteria, germs and viruses as do our hands.

The cuts, wounds, blisters or lesions on hand become favorable breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. The infected hands then spread the infection when we touch our eyes, nose or mouth. Therefore, washing them thoroughly with soap or alcohol-based sanitizer is very important to prevent transmission of infections, as well as maintain good health and hygiene.

When to Wash Hands

The rule of thumb would be to wash whenever you feel or vaguely have doubt that they may be dirty or infected. Clean or protected hands are important when handling high risk areas for infections like wounds, mouth, eyes or nose. Changing contact lenses, cooking food, washing or bandaging wounds, and similar activities require cleanly washed or protected hands.

It is equally important to wash hands after being exposed to germs like in cases where you handle raw meat or poultry for cooking, change diapers of babies, take care of the sick, touch an animal or their toys, bed or leashes, clean toilets, handle garbage or chemicals, come in contact with gooey body fluids like saliva and phlegm, handle money, travel by public transport, shake hands or clean animal wastes.

The Right Way to Wash

Following some simple steps will assure you that your hands are germs free. Generally just soap and water would be sufficient. The step by step procedure for clean hands is to:

  • Wet hands with clean water
  • Apply hand-wash, or soap
  • Generate lather and scrub all the surfaces of hands at least for 20 seconds
  • Wash in between fingers, under nails, and back of the hands without fail
  • Rinse hand under running water
  • Dry hands under a dryer or using clean towels

Remember, it is important to dry hands immediately after wash, as wet hands can collect germs more easily.

Hand Sanitizers Can Be Handy

When clean, running water is not available use alcohol based hand sanitizers to clean hands. Using hand sanitizers is simple:

  • Pour sufficient amount of the liquid on the palm
  • Rub hands together to spread the sanitizers evenly over the hand
  • Continue rubbing until the hands are dry

Though they are not as effective as washing hands, they kill germs and bacteria. Make sure the alternative product comes with enough alcohol to kill the germs.

Children are more likely to get sick with dirty hands, therefore, take time to explain the importance of washing hands to them. Put reminders and charts guiding them to proper methods of washing hands.

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