IMPORTANCE OF HAND WASHING: WHY, WHEN, AND HOW
WHY IS HANDWASHING SO IMPORTANT?
Regular hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of infections and illness. Read on to learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.
Handwashing is by far one of the best ways to protect oneself from sickness and prevent germs from spreading to others. Let’s learn the importance of hand hygiene: Why, when, and how you should wash your hands to stay hale and hearty.
WHY IS HANDWASHING IMPORTANT?
Today, we know that many diseases and infections are spreading due to contaminated and unwashed hands. Keeping hands clean is, therefore, one of the simplest ways to avoid getting sick and transmitting germs. Proper handwashing and hand hygiene are also important as it curbs the spread of both respiratory and diarrheal infections. Hand-to-hand transmission of germs can not only spread some mild illness or conditions, but also acute and life-threatening diseases. Therefore, certain infections that can pose risk to small children, the elderly, those with pre-existing diseases, and people with a low immune system can easily be avoided simply by washing hands properly with soap and clean water.
HOW WASHING HANDS PREVENT THE SPREAD OF GERMS AND PREVENT ILLNESS?
Germs can get into our hands from numerous sources. It can remain in our hands after using the toilet, lift buttons, changing diapers, or even handling raw meat. It must be noted that germs can also get onto our hands if we touch objects previously touched by someone who has coughed or sneezed. When these germs are transferred onto our hands and are not washed off immediately, they make us sick. Handwashing can therefore remove germs from hands and prevent infections because:
- People unknowingly tend to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth. If the hands are unwashed, then germs will easily enter the body which will eventually result in sickness.
- Germs from unclean hands can contaminate foods and drinks during preparation as well as consumption. Germs can even multiply in certain foods or drinks and make people sick.
- Germs can be transferred to objects, like doorknobs, tabletops, handrails, toys, ATMs, just to name a few! When you touch these contaminated objects, the viruses that have already survived on these surfaces may be transferred to your hands.
- Handwashing helps in preventing skin and eye infections like pink eye and trachoma.
- Diseases like salmonellosis (a gastrointestinal infection), influenza, colds, coronavirus or COVID-19, and other such infections can be controlled by washing hands.
- Handwashing reduces the incidence and impact of intestinal worms and is the most effective way to avert pinworm infections.
- Good handwashing education in the early years assists child well-being, growth, and development.
- Kids don’t wash their hands very often and as the germs in hand are not scrubbed off regularly, it can cause them to miss their school. Teaching the purpose and importance of handwashing to them will help in lowering down absenteeism from gastrointestinal problems.
- Regular handwashing and good hand hygiene can keep unnecessary antibiotics at bay! Antibiotics are mostly prescribed for diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory infections; all of these can be prevented by washing hands frequently.
KEY TIMES TO WASH HANDS:
Someone who understands the importance of hand hygiene frequently washes his/her hand. However, if you are still one of those who need to inculcate this good habit, we are here to help! Primarily, you must wash your hands after you’ve visited a public place or have touched any object that has been touched by numerous other people. Thereafter, you must not forget to wash your hands in the following situations:
• Anytime hands appear filthy, dirty, or greasy.
• Before and after preparing food.
• Before having meals.
• Before taking medications.
• After touching products like raw meat, poultry, or fish.
• Before applying and removing contact lenses.
• After handling money or cash receipts.
• Before and after attending to a sick person.
• After using the washroom or toilet.
• After changing the diapers or helping a child in the toilet.
• After blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• After touching your pet, any animal or animal waste.
• After handling pet food.
• After handling garbage, touching garbage bins, or dirty clothes that have been used for dusting and cleaning purposes.
• When you arrive at your destination (your home, other people’s homes, at work, or different venues).
• After an outdoor activity (playing, strolling, gardening, walking the dog, and so on).
• After using any means of public transportation.
HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS PROPERLY IN 5 EASY STEPS?
The purpose of handwashing with soap and water is to stop the spread of bacteria and viruses. With 5 simple steps, you can give yourself a thorough hand cleaning regime and prevent the spread of myriad illness:
1. Start with rinsing your hands under clean, running water.
2. Apply antiseptic soap. You can include liquid hand wash, foams, or the ones that come with extra moisturizers.
3. Let it lather for about 30 seconds or longer if the dirt is ingrained. Now spread the lather gradually on all parts of your hands, including wrists, between fingers, and under fingernails.
4. Rinse properly and dry them thoroughly.
5. While using a public washroom, ensure you use a paper towel or napkin to turn off the faucet (so that you do not re-contaminate your hands). Refrain from touching other dirty surfaces as you step out.
WHAT ABOUT HAND SANITIZER?
Hand sanitizers act as a convenient option when soap and running water are not readily available. However, they shouldn’t be used as a regular substitute since soap and water remove dirt and cleans the hand much better than a hand sanitizer does. While using hand sanitizers, keep these things in mind:
• Hand sanitizers must contain at least 60% alcohol (both ethanol alcohol and isopropanol alcohol are acceptable).
• You must rub the sanitizer in both hands vigorously for about 20 seconds or until it is completely dried.
• Keep it handy: It is a go-to option when you are outdoors, traveling, or simply indulging in a leisure activity.
Hand washing is easy, inexpensive, and takes 30 seconds only. It’s the best 30 seconds you can spend on your health and the health of those around you.
Before you go, click here to find the best products on hand hygiene.