Your Health is in your Hands: Hand-Washing

October 15, 2008 was the first ever Global Hand-Washing Day!  Yes, the United Nations has gotten into the promotion of hand-washing.  Hand-washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which are responsible for the deaths of over 3.5 million children worldwide.

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) says hand washing is the single most important thing we can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness.

Proper hand-washing can help eliminate the spread of:  the common cold, the flu, stomach upset, diarrhea, hepatitis A, SARS, food borne and pneumonia.

Best Hand-Washing Practices:

  • Wet hands with warm running water and apply soap.
  • Lather well.
  • Rub hands for 15 to 20 seconds, scrubbing all hand surfaces, front, back even under the fingernails.
  • Rinse in running water.
  • Dry hands on a clean towel, or use a disposable towel or use an air dryer.  (At home frequently change the hand towels in your bathroom, especially if someone is sick.)
  • Turn off the water with a towel (not your clean hands).

Antibacterial soap is not necessary!  Overuse of antibacterial soaps can lead to the development of bacteria that is harder to kill.  It is the friction when scrubbing your hands with soap and rinsing that removes bacteria from your hands.  So save yourself some money and just buy regular soap.

If you can’t get to soap and water the next best thing is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Make sure you pick an alcohol-based sanitizer.  The CDC recommends sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.  These products are effective in killing bacteria and viruses.

Wash your hands frequently.  The more often you wash the better for stopping your germs from spreading and for removing the germs of those around you.


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