- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Procedure and poster for washing hands effectively
Something as basic as washing hands frequently can effectively reduce infections and diseases caused by microbes.
It is through our hands that we pick up different germs when we touch people, surfaces and objects through the day. These bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms can be easily transferred to other parts of the body when we touch our eyes, mouth and nose, causing various infections and spreading diseases.
It is almost impossible to keep our hands absolutely free of germs, but frequent washing of hands with soap or using hand sanitizer is hygienic and helps reduce the spreading of germs to a large extent.
Hence it is extremely important for us to know when and how to wash our hands properly.
When you must wash hands?
You must make an effort to wash your hands properly after certain activities, failing which the chances of bacterial and viral infections may potentially increase. They are:
- After coming home from outside
- After commuting in public transport
- When many people around are sneezing or coughing
- When you yourself cough or sneeze
- Before and after eating
- After touching doorknobs, switches, phones, taps and other objects which are shared by others
- After handling garbage or throwing the litter
- After touching pets
- After shaking hands
- After gardening
- After using toilets
- After changing baby's diapers
- After handling soiled utensils
- After touching money and newpapers
- After handling raw food, especially raw vegetables and raw meat, eggs, fish, shellfish or poultry
- Before cooking food
- Health workers must wash hands after touching their patients
- Before and after touching a sick person
- Before and after treating wounds
- After touching any dusty surface or dirty object
Washing hands as frequently as possible will go a long way in protecting oneself and the people around from getting contaminated with infections.
How to wash hands correctly?
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in US have recommended health workers and everyone else to follow some steps of proper handwashing.
- Use a good lathering soap liberally all over the surfaces of the hands
- Use preferably warm running water to wash your hands. Warm water loosens the germs and grease from the hands and is more effective than cold water.
- Rub your hands together for at least 15-20 seconds
- Special care needs to be given to the wrists, back of the hands, under the fingernails and in between the fingers.
- Rinse the soap thoroughly with running water
- Dry your hands with a clean towel
- When using public restrooms, use a paper towel to dry your hands. Make a habit of using paper towel to touch the taps or doorknobs in order to avoid direct contact with germ-prone surfaces
Other tips for hand hygiene:
- Make an effort to keep your nails clean, shorter nails would be easier to cleanse
- While travelling, carry a hand sanitizer and paper towels or hand wipes and use them often
- Using hot air drier in public restrooms may not be effective always to keep your hands safe. Over a period of time, germs and dirt get collected inside the air drier, which is directly blown into the hands, negating the effects of the freshly washed hands. It is better to avoid drying hands using the hot air drier in public restrooms.
- Using antibacterial soaps are not always advantageous over normal soaps. Constant use of antibacterial soaps may lead to the development of bacteria which are resistant to the antimicrobial solutions in the soap.
- Always keep a clean handkerchief or paper towel handy when you are travelling or commuting to work
- Alcohol-based sanitizers have 65-90% alcohol (ethyl alcohol or isopropanol) which has a very high efficacy of killing a range of harmful pathogens, that too instantly. On the contrary, alcohol-free sanitizers, though growing in popularity as it is milder to the hands, retaining the natural oils of the skin unlike alcohol, has not been proved (by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration) to be as effective a sanitizer.
Go through the posters for proper hand washing and hand rubbing
Techniques for proper hand rubbing, must be taught to children at home, schools and also must be put on the walls of the public restrooms
Hand washing techniques, needs to be put up in public places, in schools and hospitals.
"Save Lives: Clean your hands" initiative by WHO
A humble act of 'washing hands' frequently can save precious lives by preventing the spread of diseases carried by harmful pathogens. World Health Organization (WHO) have celebrated its second global day on 5th May 2010 to raise the awareness among the people. The project was called "Save Lives: Clean your Hands" and the responses were amazing.
The aim was to invite the health-care workers, facilities and organizations all over the globe to actively campaign for improved hand hygiene to reduce health-care associated infections. It was estimated that annually, 99,000 deaths occur due to health-care associated infections, the number has drastically come down after the hospitals and other health-care providers started to inculcate routined hand hygiene practices.
Although WHO had started the campaign targeting mainly the health-care workers, nevertheless every global citizen has a responsibility towards establishing sustainable health and hygiene for oneself and the people around. Hence, the otherwise neglected practice of washing hands properly and frequently must be encouraged.
Wash your hands off the germs!
Read my other health hubs:
- Regular 'Power Walk' Impacts All Walks of Life
The way we have to do things at a breakneck pace, how many of us would actually find time to go to the gym regularly or take yoga or aerobics classes? Yes, time is a big factor to most of us, taking care of...
- Improve Your Brain Fitness
In this fast paced world, how many of you find yourself continuously multitasking whether at home or at work? Trying to solve life's simple and complex problems, taking important decisions, coping with the...