Believe it or not, your mother was right, keeping your hands clean is half the battle won when trying to stay germ and disease free. One of the best and most effective ways to improving your hygiene is to wash your hands.
It not only helps you avoid falling sick but also helps you avoid spreading germs to other people. Germs and bacteria can cause a number of dangerous diseases to adults and children alike. Simple soap and clean, running water can help you avoid falling prey to these disease carriers.
There are many that are conflicted about when they should be washing their hands. For them, the simple answer is, when in doubt if your hands are dirty, wash them. There are, however, different scenarios that may require you to wash your hands thoroughly. Some of these are listed below:
- If you have just bought vegetables at the market and handled them with your hands as most people do, you will need to wash your hands. This is important since your hands might have come in contact with dangerous chemicals used in pesticides and insecticides used on the vegetables and fruits.
- If you are going to prepare food it is important to wash your hands right before you do so. This will ensure that you do not transfer any of your germs to the food that you make and thus work towards keeping your family healthy. Also, once you have finished cooking food it is important to wash your hands thoroughly since there are many food products that can harm you when they come in contact with parts of your body including your eyes.
- As we all know, washing your hands is crucial before eating your food. Dirty hands in contact with food invariably transfer bacteria into your digestive system and lead to serious infections.
- If you are caring for someone who is sick it is important that you wash your hands before and after you come in contact with them. It is as important to not expose them to your germs as it is to not expose others to the patient’s germs.
- If you have a cut or a wound and need to apply first aid to it, it is important that first wash your hand before dabbing it with a cotton swab. Open cuts and wounds are easy entry ways for bacteria to enter your body and can cause a number of ailments. Once you have applied the essential first aid to your wound it is just as important to wash your hands once again.
- As is well known, wash your hands thoroughly with an antibacterial soap after using the toilet.
- If you are around a baby and are changing diapers it is important to keep your hands clean. Wash your hands once you have changed the baby’s diapers or after cleaning up a child that has just used the toilet.
- If you have just blown your nose or sneezed, it is imperative that you disinfect your hands by washing them thoroughly. No, it is not overkill, it is a prudent practice in staying germ-free and ensuring that those you come in touch with are not infected with what you have.
- If you have a pet or are in regular touch with animals it is important to keep your hands clean. Wash your hands thoroughly once you touch an animal and use a sanitizer if you do not have running water and soap.
- If you have just handled garbage it is important for you to clean your hands. Garbage usually carries a fair amount of bacteria which you need to avoid, and washing your hands after handling it is a wise move.
The big question among most people, however, is how to wash their hands. Many believe that a cursory rinse under running water does the trick, but that is far from effective. There is a method to wash your hands for maximum efficacy.
Turn on the water and rinse your hands thoroughly. Turn off the water.
Take some soap and lather up your hands thoroughly.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Make sure that you are scrubbing between your fingers and the back of your hands as well. It is also prudent to ensure that you give a thorough cleaning below your fingernails. If you really want to make sure that you have done it for long enough, try the simple method of singing the happy birthday song twice.
Rinse the soap away. Make sure that you are thorough in rinsing your hands of any soap. It is important that you are using running water to do this.
Dry your hands thoroughly. Remember, moist hands allow bacteria to cling to your skin. Make sure that your hands are completely dry.
It is important to note that washing hands does not necessarily kill the bacteria on your skin. What it does is remove them from your skin. There are also a number of myths surrounding antibacterial soap. Research has shown that regular soap works just as well as antibacterial soap. In fact, it has been found that triclosan in antibacterial soap is one of the main reasons behind the increased antibiotic resistance among bacteria that scientists and doctors have observed.
What to do in the absence of running water and soap?
If you do not have running water or soap, for example when you are out camping, it is always a good idea to carry an alcohol based sanitizer. Make sure that the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol for maximum efficacy. It is important to note that while alcohol based sanitizers can reduce the number of germs on the hands they do not completely eliminate all the germs present there. It also may not remove harmful chemicals.
Washing your hands is an easy and effective way of keeping harmful bacteria at bay. It is important however, to understand the best way to wash your hands to ensure that you are getting the most benefit from it.