- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Wash Your Hands-One way to Prevent The Spread of Germs that make you sick
It's all about the Germs
It doesn't matter what time of the year it is - Germs exist year round and proper hand washing techniques is still one of the simplest ways to prevent germs from making us sick.
Sneezing, coughing, and fevers, signs of the common cold, are all around us everywhere we go. Now is the time of year where we tend to stay indoors more often, in school, home, and work. Also, with the holidays approaching we are in the malls shopping and enjoying family gatherings and parties. Every day our hands to come into contact with things other people touched, causing the spread of germs which can make us sick. One of the newest sources of germs is the touchscreens of popular handheld devices. It is recommended to clean the screens with cloths specifically designed for that purpose.
The CDC has guidelines
One basic and the most obvious way to avoid the spread of germs and possibly prevent a cold is to wash your hands, often and correctly. According to the CDC (The Center for Disease Control) "Keeping hands clean is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness." The CDC's handwashing hygiene guidelines are obvious, wash your hands:
- After handling Raw Meats
- Before preparing Food
- After Changing Diapers
- After Coughing or Sneezing
- Using the Restroom
- Contact with Animals
These are obvious rules that we all know about, but I think it is helpful to remind ourselves how important correct hand washing is and what an easy way to prevent the spread of germs it can be.
Hand Washing and Happy Birthday
We all know the song but just in case:
Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You.....Happy Birthday Dear (name), Happy Birthday to you!
How to properly wash your hands with soap and water
- Using clear running water (warm is preferable), wet your hands and apply soap. Liquid Soap is most common is public areas- no hands have to come in contact with it.
- Make a lather and scrub thoroughly by rubbing your hands together.
- Now Sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice through, to a friend or yourself to avoid odd glances in a crowded restroom, while continuing to rub your hands together.
- Now rinse your clean hands thoroughly with the water.
- Turn off the faucet with your elbow or a paper towel, avoiding contact with your clean hands.
- If in a public area- use a paper towel or your elbow to open the door and keeping your hands clean.
No Water- Use Hand Sanitizer!
If you are traveling or simply short of time - there is an alternative to hand washing...an alcohol based Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer. This product can greatly reduce the number of germs on your hands. Guidelines for this method of hand washing hygiene are:
- Apply the Hand Sanitizer to the palm of one hand
- Rub Hands together.
- Continue rubbing over the entire surface of both hands until your hands are dry.
Continued use of these alcohol based hand sanitizers can dry your hands out; however, some of the hand sanitizers contain products to offset that dryness. Avon is one I know of, that try to prevent that from happening.
A Tiny History of Why We Wash our Hands
Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis is credited for advocating handwashing in medical clinics to prevent the spread of germs. In Vienna, Dr. Semmelweis worked in an obstetrics clinic, and observed that fatal puerperal (childbed) fever, happened more often in women assisted by medical students than by midwives. He carefully examined the practices of both groups he discovered that the medical students often assisted in childbirth after performing autopsies on patients who died of a bacterial originated illness. Dr. Semmelweis came up with the theory that the medical students might be carrying the infectious germs from one patient to another. He then insisted that there be a strict handwashing policy with a chlorinated antiseptic solution and eventually the death rates dropped to less than 1%, proving his theory that the chance of catching a bacterial disease can be prevented by simple handwashing hygiene practices.
Another physician, Dr. Oliver Wendell Homes, also supported handwashing to prevent childbed fever. Dr. Holmes, shocked at the presence of the fever in hospitals, thought that doctors were passing the disease to the pregnant women. He recommended to the other physicians that they remove themselves from their practices if two such infections occurred. His advice was met with disregard by the others at the time.
Both physicians are credited for promoting handwashing hygiene in hospitals leading to our modern recommendations.