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How Hand Washing Helps Save Lives?

The Importance of Hand Washing

Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Bacteria and viruses are easily spread when a sick person coughs, talks, and sneezes. You are also at risk to get ill if you touch germ-infected surfaces. A simple 20-second hand washing remains one of the best ways to keep yourself healthy and stop the spread of bacteria and viruses.

How do Germs and Viruses Spread From the Hands To The Body?

Bacteria and viruses are easily spread when a sick person sneezes, coughs and talks within close distance of you. When you rub your eyes or touch your nose or mouth, any viruses on your hands can enter your body through mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, or mouth. Washing your hands is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to stay healthy and stop the spread of bacteria and viruses such as colds and flu and possibly even COVID-19.

When To Wash Your Hands?

clean public toilet on a park bench

While it is impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands with soap and water frequently can help limit the transfer of viruses, bacteria, and other microbes. Always wash your hands before and after:

  • Entering or leaving a public place
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses
  • Preparing and eating food
  • people, such as door handles, gas pumps, or shopping carts
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick person
  • Touching an item or surface that is frequently touched by other

Always wash your hands after:

  • Touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Handling garbage
  • Handling pet food or pet treats
  • Using the toilet, changing a diaper, or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

How To Do Proper Hand Washing?

It’s generally best to wash your hands with soap and water. Regular soap is no more effective than over-the-counter antibacterial soap at killing germs. Follow these steps:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water either warm or cold.
  • Apply soap, lather well, and rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds.
  • You should scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse well and dry your hands with a clean towel or air-dry them.

How to Use an Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer?

woman using press on hand sanitizer

When soap and water aren’t available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are an acceptable alternative. If you use a hand sanitizer, make sure the product contains at least 60% alcohol. Follow these steps:

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand. Check the label to find out the appropriate amount and rub your hands together.
  • You should rub the gel over the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are completely dry.

Kids need clean hands, too. Help children stay healthy by encouraging them to wash their hands frequently. Demonstrate how to wash your hands with your child. To prevent rushing, suggest washing hands for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Be sure to supervise young children using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Store the container safely away after use.

Antibacterial Soap Versus Hand Sanitizer

While it is true that some pathogens are not destroyed by regular soap and water, those that survive are surrounded by the soap molecules and are washed away in the rinse water. If persistent antibacterial or antimicrobial activity on the hands is desired, antibacterial agents should be carefully selected based on their active ingredients and characteristics.

When there is no soap or water available, one alternative is to use hand sanitizers or waterless hand scrubs. Some of these products are made of ethyl alcohol mixed with emollients and other agents. They are often available as a gel, or on wipes or towelettes. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the preferred method for healthcare providers when the hands are not visibly soiled. These alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also recommended for the general public during a pandemic. Dirt, blood, or other organic materials heavily contaminate the hands, making these agents ineffective.

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