It’s cold and flu season. It’s getting colder and people are staying inside more. It becomes extremely important to protect ourselves and hand washing is one of the best forms of protection. We all know to wash our hands but it never hurts to read a friendly reminder about the importance and the how tos.
The Importance of Hand Washing
We are almost constantly surrounded by people. There will be people sneezing and coughing all around you. If bacteria lands on your hands, it can get into your body if you don’t wash those hands.
Hand sanitizers can also be used to reduce the bacteria when there is no soap or water. The use of hand sanitizers will not give the same protection as an actual hand washing but you will end up with fewer bacteria on your hands.
The best practice is to wash the hands properly and thoroughly dry them. After that, finish off with a drop of sanitizer. In that way, your hands will be perfectly clean.
This all sounds reasonable and it seems like a no-brainer. Still, a lot of people don’t do it enough. It’s not that people don’t want to be clean. It’s mostly that they forget to wash their hands when they should. That’s why they need to be reminded, especially in the workplace where they can do the most harm.
When to wash your hands
You should wash your hands thoroughly:
after using the toilet or changing daiper
before,during and after preparing food
between handling raw and cooked or ready-to-eat food
after using a tissue or handkerchief
before and after attending to sick children or other family members
after handling rubbish or working in the garden
after handling animals
How to wash your hands properly
Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap.
Apply soap and lather well for 20 seconds (or longer if the dirt is ingrained).
Rub hands together rapidly across all surfaces of your hands and wrists.
Don’t forget the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
If possible, remove rings and watches before you wash your hands, or ensure you move the rings to wash under them, as microorganisms can exist under them.
Rinse well under running water and make sure all traces of soap are removed.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
It is best to use paper towels (or single-use cloth towel).
Dry under any rings, as they can be a source of future contamination if they remain moist.
Hot air driers can be used.
Use running water
Use running water instead of a basin of standing water that could become contaminated through use. Warm water may be better than cold for handwashing as soap lathers (soaps up) better with warm water. However, cold water and soap are still suitable. Hot water can damage the skin’s natural oils. Over time, this can cause dermatitis.
Soap is Important – Liquid soap is best – Bar Soap – Antibacterial Soap?
Washing hands with soap and water will remove substantially more disease causing organisms than washing hands with water alone. For people who find that soap causes skin irritation, it is useful to note that soaps can have a different pH – they may be neutral, slightly alkaline or slightly acidic, and perfumes in soap may also cause irritation. Changing soap may help some people
Generally, it is better to use liquid soap than bar soap, particularly at work. However, bar soap is better than no soap. When following the handwashing steps outlined above, all soaps are equally effective at removing disease causing germs. Antibacterial soap is unnecessary and does not offer an advantage over regular soap.
Take care of your hands
Handwashing is only one part of hand hygiene. Looking after your skin generally is important, as your skin is your most effective barrier against infection. After your hands have been dried thoroughly, you can help to look after your hands if you:
Apply a water-based absorbent hand cream three to four times a day, or more frequently if your hands are constantly in water.
Use gloves to wash dishes to protect your hands.
Use gloves when gardening to prevent a build-up of ingrained soil or scratches.
Consult a doctor if a skin irritation develops or continues.