Washing your hands is an excellent way to protect oneself
Washing your hands is rather simple. It is one of the most efficient ways to stop germs to spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO have stated that hand hygiene is a requirement for medical personnel to control nosocomial infections.
You should wash your hands preferably:
- Before, during, and after cooking.
- Before eating.
- Before and after taking care of someone who is ill.
- Before and after treating wounds.
- After using the bathroom.
- After changing diapers or cleaning a child.
- After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
- After touching animals, or their food.
- After handling food for animals.
- After handling trash.
It is necessary to wash your hands adequately using water and soap (in case of not having water and soap at hand, you can use a alcohol based hand sanitizer). This will help reduce the amount of germs in your hand rather quickly, though it does not eliminate all kinds of germs.
Hand sanitizers are not very efficient when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. It may not eliminate harmful chemical substances from hands, like pesticides or heavy metals. Various research studies suggest that the use of an ethanol solution is not capable of completely eliminating rhinovirus from the skin, comparing it with washing hands with water and soap.
In recent years, an epidemic resurgence of infectious diseases have been a big concern; for instance, the global incidence of diarrheic diseases with 8.1 million deaths a year is associated with a lack of hygiene. The implementation of 6 months hand cleaning educational programs reduced the rate of diarrhea 41%.
Washing your hands before and after contact with patients and using the bathroom is one of the main factors to prevent or reduce the transmission of infectious pathogens. In the UK, 5 thousand deaths a year are because of pathogen transmission through health personnel.
All environments where many people reside or live together are an important spot of contagious diseases, such as hospitals, schools, gyms, public pools, public bathrooms, work places, etc. Regarding children, being a vulnerable group, schools are a place of high risk.
Serious diseases like hepatitis A and the swine flu are among the many ailments that can be prevented through washing hands. It is fundamental to know how to wash our hands. Consider the following:
- Soak with and lather with soap your hands.
- Rub your hands until it forms foam. Make sure to soap to lather your whole hands, between the fingers, and under the nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse well your hands with clean water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel, or let them dry to the air.
Reviewers: Brenda Giselle Álvarez Rodríguez (Public Health Research Unit), and Cassandra Saldaña Pineda (Knowledge Management Unit).
- Article “Bacteriological Aspects of Hand Washing: A Key for Health Promotion and Infections Control”. Int J Prev Med. 2017; 8: 16.
- National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT)
- National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID).