Maintaining hand hygiene is the best practice for you and your family to stay healthy and avoid catching infectious diseases. Research shows that washing hands frequently can lower the rate of transmission of infectious diseases.
Washing hands is also the best strategy to lower the rate of transmission of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) which has caused a global pandemic. The best practice in this situation is to stay at home, maintain social distancing and keep good hand hygiene.
Steps for Proper Hand Washing
Washing hands the right way is the most effective way to prevent the spreading of germs and it is good for you as well as for the whole community. Given below are the steps for a complete hand wash which kills most of the germs on our hands and ensures the maximum level of protection. These steps are based on the World Health Organization (WHO) protocols of hand-washing techniques.
- Wet your hands under the running water first, then close the tap and apply enough soap to your hands
- Rub your hands thoroughly and make enough lather to cover up your hands and wrists completely
- Scrub all parts of your hands individually, first scrub both palms together, then back of hands, between fingers, back of the fingers, both thumb and rub both the fingernails on the palms.
- Scrub both hands for at least 20 seconds. If you find it hard to keep a note of time, just hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
- Rinse your hands under running water and dry them with a paper towel.
When to Wash Your Hands
It is good to develop a habit of washing hands frequently throughout the day but it becomes more important in situations where you are more vulnerable to acquire or transmit germs. Such conditions are:
- Before and after having lunch
- Before and after cooking meals
- When greeting someone who has flu or any other infection
- Wash hands before taking medications
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing nose
- Before and after treating a wound
- Wash hands after using the bathroom
Which Type of Soap/Hand wash should be used?
You can use any regular or anti-bacterial soap/liquid hand wash you have at home. There is not much difference between using regular soap and anti-bacterial soap. Research proves that both of these are equally effective for killing germs. Some products that contain triclosan and triclocarban are banned by the FDA because these chemicals can cause problems such as anti-bacterial resistance, systemic absorption and allergic reactions. Products containing these chemicals should be avoided at all costs.
Your skin can also become dry and itchy after washing hands too frequently. If your normal skin flora gets disturbed, it becomes easy for bacteria and viruses to grow on your hands and this will lead to infection. To avoid dryness, use moisturizers such as aloe vera or glycerin to keep your hands hydrated.
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