Hand-washing is one of the most simple and important ways to prevent infectious disease. We are in contact with millions of germs when using the bathroom, touching surfaces and even shaking other people’s hands. Touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching contaminated objects are one of the most common ways to spread germs. Many diseases such as common flu, diarrhea and food-related sicknesses including E.Coli and Salmonella can arise from a bad hand washing practice.
We should wash our hands often! Between 2 to 10 million bacteria are found in our fingertips and up to our elbows. These microorganisms can stay alive up to three hours or even days. However, many of them are not dangerous bacteria (also known as commensal microorganisms), but other can provoke us disease. Because of this, employing good hand washing techniques is important. When to wash your hands:
- before cooking and eating food
- after using the restroom
- after managing waste disposal material such as diapers, garbage or animal waste
- after blowing your nose or sneezing
- after touching an animal
- when treating with patients and being in touch with blood or body fluids
Did you know that the number of germs in your hands double after using the toilet?
What to Use
A proper way to wash your hands is simply using soap and water. Studies prove that using common soap is more kills bacteria more efficiently than antibacterial soaps, far from what is commonly thought. On the other hand, more than 20 published studies have proven that alcohol-based hand rub material is more effective than soap in reducing microorganisms in our hands. In case that soap and water are not available, alcohol-based sanitizer are always a good and recommended option.
In fact, the overall rate in which people wash their hands in the world are low. Statistics prove that only 34% of the people wash their hands at critical moments such as before handling food or after using the restroom.
Health industries recommend us the following steps to wash our hands properly.
First, get your hands in water. Hot water is not necessarily better than cold water, as believed, just use a temperature that is comfortable. Second, apply soap and scrub it all over your hand surface including the space below your fingernails. Sometimes washing exposed areas of your arms is also a good practice, specially if you work at certain industries (such as medical or microbiology) where sterile conditions are important. Third, wait at least 20 seconds while scrubbing your hands. Finally, rinse your hands and use either paper towel or air dryer to dry your hands.