Personal hygiene is crucial to overall health and reducing the spread of germs and bacteria. It has been an increasingly popular topic of discussion with the COVID-19 virus and the beginning of cold and flu season rolling around. Everyone must be taking the precautions necessary to avoid the risk of common infections. The main one we will discuss will be hand washing. Read this blog to discover the importance, proper techniques, appropriate times, and possible alternatives.
Why is Hand Washing so Important?
Think of all the things you touch in a day. Now think about how many people have also touched those things that day. Is it a toilet handle, or even the bathroom door handle? What about the microwave handle at work when you go to warm up your food? Chances are germs have been accumulating on those surfaces all day long, only to find a home on your hands until you wash them off. It doesn’t stop there, though. When there are germs on your hands and you touch your face, you are allowing these germs to enter your body. Washing your hands with soap removes these germs from the hands and can prevent all kinds of illnesses and infections. Because of the benefits, hand washing is essential to reducing the risk of common infections.
Proper Hand Washing Technique
We all learn to wash our hands from a very young age, but you could be doing it wrong. Believe it or not, there is a proper technique for washing your hands. Follow these steps every time for the best results:
- Wet with water with cold or hot/warm water (it doesn’t matter) and apply soap
- Lather by rubbing hands together. Make sure to get the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails
- Scrub for 20 seconds or longer
- Rinse your hands
- Dry with an air dryer or use a clean towel
- Use a paper towel if possible to turn the faucet off and protect yourself from other surfaces you may encounter when exiting the bathroom
Make sure to cleanse your hands thoroughly every time, or it is pointless. Clean or not, avoid contact with your face, making sure you don’t reinfect the cleansed area. Also, make sure you are caring for cuts on your hands, cleaning them well, and using bandages to protect another entry point into your body.
How often you should Wash your Hands
Many situations warrant good hand washing. Some scenarios that may require you to wash your hands are:
- After using the restroom
- After Coughing or Sneezing
- Before and after touching your face
- Before and After you enter/exit the breakroom or any common area
- When you are handling garbage or a contaminated surface
- If your hands are visibly dirty
- If you are handling food
- Before and after treating a cut
- Before taking medicine
These are just a few situations that may require hand washing. There are many more situations when you should be washing your hands but use your best judgment. During times of high sick rates, everyone must be doing their part and washing their hands as necessary and often as possible. If you don’t always have a sink nearby, there are other alternatives to soap and water that you can use.
Alternatives to Hand Soap and Water
When everyone is rushing to wash their hands, it can feel impossible to stay stocked up on hand soap. Even the convenience of getting to a bathroom can stop people from properly washing their hands. This increases the need for an alternative to hand soap and water. Many people opt for hand sanitizer, which is not as effective, but it gets the job done. The key to hand sanitizer is making sure it contains at least 60% alcohol. While hand sanitizer does not kill or remove all types of germs from the hands, it does greatly reduce them. You should apply the gel to your hands and rub them together until they are dry, which should take 20 seconds, more or less.
Hand washing is an essential part of reducing the risk of common infections and illnesses. It’s especially essential during the sick season. Do your part to prevent the spread of sickness. This blog should help you properly wash your hands and gauge the appropriate times to do so.