How and When to Wash our Hands

English: Liquid antibacterial soap on a person...
Try to wash with liquid soaps if you can. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Germs and bacteria are silent killers. They’re everywhere but we don’t see them.  We don’t normally feel  their presence but their outbreak is one of the deadliest. They can start spreading infections and illnesses without  us knowing.

Don’t let yourself catch ay of these germs and bacteria. And you can do this by simply ensuring that your hands are clean at all times. Handwashing is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent the onset and the spread of illnesses and infections in all settings. And it is easy to do. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another .

When, ideally, should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching  and handling garbage

The need may vary from person to person but the most important thing is, if you think you’ve held something infected or dirty, then wash your hands immediately.

How should you wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and ensure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, under your nails, under  the rings, and cuticles. Friction helps remove dirt and microorganisms.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.
What type of soap is recommended? Are antibacterial soaps more effective than ordinary soaps?
Plain soaps are as effective as antibacterial soaps in public, homes and outside healthcare settings. Some scientists even believe that antibacterial soaps can contribute to the development of antibiotic resistant germs. Antibacterial soaps must remain in your hands for at least two minutes in order to have any effect on bacteria. Plain soaps are easier to find and much cheaper compared to antibacterial soaps.
Liquid soaps are more ideal compared to bar soaps, as they don’t they don’t have to be passed on from person to person. Germs can grow from bar soaps and can then easily spread from person to person. Most liquid soaps contain moisturizing agent, so your hands may not dry out as quickly from frequently cleaning your hands. Bar soaps are not ideal to use in public places, as anyone who has skin infections might have access to it. Use bar soaps in household settings.
In the absence of soap and water, you can always use sanitizers and alcohol but if your hands are visibly dirty, ensure that you wash them as soon as you can.
In the end, it wouldn’t matter much what type of soap you will use when washing your hands. What is important is how well you scrub and clean them.
Web References:
http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/
http://www.health.state.mn.us/handhygiene/how/bestsoap.html
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