Hand Washing

donnamarie By donnamarie, 11th Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Diseases & Infections

Hand washing is very important to help prevent getting sick yet many of us either do not do it enough or do not do it correctly. Here is an article explaining why it is so important and how to do it properly.

Hand Washing

Hand washing is a simple yet important task. Yet a lot of us do not do it often enough and when we do, most of us do not do it properly. When done correctly, hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. All that is required for this simple task is soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer - a cleanser which does not need water.

During the day you gather germs on your hands. These come from a variety of sources, such as direct contact with people, contaminated surfaces, foods, animals and animals waste. You can then infect yourself with these germs when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth if you do not wash your hands regularly enough. You can also spread these germs to other people by touching them or surfaces which they touch, such as doorknobs.

The common cold, flu and several gastrointestinal disorders, such as infectious diarrhoea are infectious diseases which are commonly spread through hand-to-hand contact. The flu can be a particularly serious disease, especially for older adults and those with chronic medical problems because they can then develop pneumonia. A combination of flu and pneumonia is the eighth-leading cause of death among Americans.

Insufficient hand washing is also a contribution to food-related illnesses, such as salmonella and E. coli infection. As many as 76 million Americans get a food-borne illness every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 5,000 of these die as a result of their illness.

It is very important that your children get into the habit of washing their hands to. This will help them avoid becoming sick. You can do this by teaching by example. Wash your hands when with your children and supervise their hand washing. Place hand-washing reminders at children’s eye level. This could be a chart which they mark each time they was their hands. If the sink is to high for children to use, place a stool underneath it so that they can reach. Tell your children to was their hands for as long as it takes to sing their ABCs, “Row, Row, Row your Boat” or the “Happy Birthday” song. This idea works especially well for younger children because they are more likely to rush when washing their hands.

Younger children can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers with your help. Just ensure that their hands have completely dried before they touch anything. This is to prevent ingestion of alcohol due to hand-to-mouth contact. Make sure you store the container safely away after use.

Hand washing is particularly important for children who go to child care. Those under 3 are at a greater risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, which can be spread easily to family members and other people in the community.

Ensure that your child care provider promotes hand hygiene. This includes frequent hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Ask if the children are required to wash their hands several times a day and no just before meals. Make a note whether the diapering areas and cleaned after each use and if the eating and diapering areas are well separated.

You should wash your hands at these times:

Using the toilet
Coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or disposable tissue, using tobacco, eating or drinking
Touching bare human body parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of arms
Handling soiled equipment or utensils
Preparing food. This should be done as often as necessary in order to remove soil and contamination and prevent cross-contamination when changing tasks
Switching between working with raw food and ready-to-eat food
Changing diapers of cleaning up after a child who has been to the bathroom
Before and after tending to someone who is sick
Handling an animal or animal waste
Handling garbage
Before and after treating a cut or wound
Before inserting or removing contact lenses


In recent years, antibacterial soaps have become very popular. These soaps however, are no more effective at killing germs than regular soaps are. They may in fact lead to the development of bacteria which are resistant to the product’s antimicrobial agents. This makes it harder to kill these germs in the future. A combination of scrubbing your hands with soap and rinsing them in water loosens and removes the bacteria from your hands.

Wet your hands using warm, running water. Apply some liquid soap. You can also use a clean bar of soap but I prefer liquid soap because every time you use it you are getting a fresh amount. Germs and bacteria can develop on bars of soap. If you do use a bar, make sure only you use it. Do not share it. Lather well.

For at least 15 to 20 seconds, rub your hands together vigorously.

Scrub all surfaces of your hands. Make sure you do the backs of your hands, wrists, between fingers and under your fingernails.

Rinse hands well.

Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel.

Turn off the faucet using a towel. This is to prevent re-contamination.

These do not require water and are an excellent alternative when soap and are not available. Hospitals now have them in the corridors and next to each patient’s bed in the fight against diseases such as MRSA. They are actually more successful in than soap and water in killing the bacteria and viruses which cause diseases. Commercially prepared hand sanitizers have ingredients to help prevent your skin from becoming dry. Use of these products can result in less skin dryness and irritation as opposed to when you use soap and water. However, if your hands are visibly dirty you should was them with soap and water, if available.

Not all hand sanitizers are the same however. Some do not contain alcohol. Only use alcohol-based products. The CDC recommends that you use products that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.

Apply about ½ teaspoon of the product to the palm of your hand.

Rub your hands together making sure you cover all surfaces. Do this until they are dry.


Common Cold, Disease Prevention, E-Coli, Germs, Hand-Washing, Hands, Salmonella, Soap

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author avatar Godwill
12th Jul 2010 (#)

Nice piece. Thanks for posting.

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author avatar drelayaraja
12th Jul 2010 (#)

Wonderful info :0

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author avatar Retired
13th Jul 2010 (#)

so important a page, keep writing ones like these!

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