Learning how to wash your hands properly is an essential step toward bettering your overall health and wellbeing. Every day, we come into contact with many germs that causes illnesses. Just by practicing proper hand hygiene, you can avoid bacteria that contribute to sickness. However, when should you wash and for how long? Is there a way to remind your children to wash their hands? What about hand sanitizer?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends you wash your hands after a variety of everyday occurrences, such as before and after preparing food. Meals that use raw chicken can cause salmonella and make you sick. Rinse your hands before every meal, even if you didn’t cook it. You should also wash your hands after changing diapers or handling garbage, changing the litter box, petting animals, or feeding them. If you are sick, wash your hands more frequently than usual.
If you wash your hands after doing all of the activities previously mentioned, you are less likely to spread germs. If you wash your hands for at least 30 seconds, you are removing the most bacteria possible, including the ones that can get you sick.
Proper Hand Washing
Wet your hands with warm or cool water. Apply some soap and scrub the palms and backs of your hands, making sure to get any dirt out from under your fingernails, as well. You should have suds up to your wrists and between each finger. Wash for at least twenty seconds to help to eliminate germs. Then, using clean running water, rinse your hands until all the soap is gone. Finally, either air dry your hands or wipe them off with a clean towel.
When choosing a cleanser to wash your hands, liquid soaps are better to use compared to bar soap because the latter can accumulate germs on the surface from multiple people using it. Liquid soap is generally more comfortable to use and cannot spread germs in the same manner. It also tends to have moisturizing agents that help with the dryness that comes with washing your hands.
There may be times when you are in a place where you don’t have access to running water or soap, such as while camping. If such a situation arises, clean your hands with a sanitizer that has at least sixty percent alcohol. When using a hand sanitizer, scrub your hands until they are dry. Even though this method isn’t as effective as washing with soap and water, it will help to reduce the number of germs until you can wash your hands properly.
There is no proof antibacterial soaps work better than regular hand soaps. The Mayo Clinic says using too much antibacterial soap can make it harder to kill bacteria as it becomes resistant to the anti-microbial properties in the solvent. The safest type of soap to use is regular hand soap that isn’t antibacterial.
Teaching Children Proper Hand Hygiene
Although teaching kids how to wash their hands properly may be somewhat of a chore, the long-term benefits are worth it. It can help to make a game of washing their hands or singing songs. Singing Happy Birthday or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star can ensure your child washes their hands for the right amount of time.
Risks of Improper Hand Hygiene
If you aren’t washing your hands enough, you run the risk of getting sick. You may end up contracting the flu or another virus. When you handle raw meat and don’t wash your hands, you have a high risk of getting food poisoning. The best course of action is to ensure you are practicing proper hand washing techniques.
Washing Too Much
It is possible to wash your hands too much. You should watch out for dryness and cracks in the skin, as well as bleeding. If your hands crack or bleed, this can allow germs to enter the body. You can combat dry skin by using a moisturizing lotion after washing your hands. Make sure you wash your hands only when called for; you don’t need to clean your hands a dozen times a day.
Assistance with Hand Washing
If you have any questions about washing your hands properly, be sure to ask your doctor. He or she will be able to put your mind at ease when it comes to questions that may arise. If you do get an illness from inadequate hand washing, make an appointment for diagnosis and treatment. Most bacterial and viral infections will go away with antibiotics.