Hygiene is a string of behaviors performed to maintain general health and prevent the transmission of diseases from one person to another. Practicing good hygiene improves overall health and quality of life. Many practices come under good hygiene maintenance, including regular hand washing. Unfortunately, many people need to be made aware of the significance of hand washing. Let us learn how handwashing can protect one and all.
How Do Germs Spread?
It is essential to know how germs spread, as this signifies the importance of handwashing. Germs are tiny living organisms that can cause diseases.
Germs can spread in many ways, including:
It is evident that proper handwashing effectively kills germs and ends their spread.
What Is the Importance of Handwashing?
Regular handwashing is one of the effective ways to combat germs, avoid getting sick, and stop the spread of germs to others. The habit of hand washing should be taught right from childhood itself. There are a large number of highly infectious diseases that can pass from one to another. According to several research studies, appropriately washing hands can prevent respiratory infections (such as influenza, colds, and the novel coronavirus infection) and gastrointestinal diseases (such as salmonellosis). Unfortunately, many individuals wash their hands with water alone and not with soap, which is still unsafe for a person's health. Washing hands with antibacterial soap and water or using hand sanitizers is substantially more effective in killing the germs that may transmit infections from one person to another.
How to Wash Your Hands Properly?
Now that we know the importance of handwashing, it is equally crucial to know the correct technique. Certain handwashing steps can provide maximum protection from possible infections. The following steps should be followed while washing hands with soap:
Step 1 - First, wet the hands with clean running water and apply an antibacterial soap or washing gel.
Step 1 - Lather soap well for about 20 seconds, spreading it to the palms, between fingers, and back of hands.
Step 2 - Rub and scrub well between the fingers with soap.
Step 3 - Rub the back of the hands with soap.
Step 4 - Rub the fingers backward nicely with soap.
Step 5 - Rub the thumb well with soap.
Step 6 - Clean the nails thoroughly with soap rubbing them to the palms.
Step 7 - Rub and clean the wrist, both front and backward, with soap.
Step 8 - Rinse hands with running water.
Step 9 - Dry hands thoroughly with a clean hand towel or paper towel. Air drying is also acceptable.
What Is the Importance of Handwashing With Sanitizers?
Hand sanitizers are more convenient for keeping the hands germ-free. In addition, they do not require soap and water. Therefore, there is no need to wash hands after applying hand sanitizers. However, it is important to remember that hand sanitizer is not a substitute for handwashing with water and soap, as hand washing is more effective than sanitizers. However, hand sanitizers are handy for frequently cleaning the hands, which can kill germs. When buying hand sanitizers, choose alcohol-based products as they are more effective in fighting germs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 % alcohol. Every year, global handwashing day is observed worldwide on October 15 to spread hand-washing awareness. This shows the scale of handwashing importance.
What Are the Different Ways to Teach Children to Wash Their Hands?
Teaching children hand washing since childhood is an excellent way to encourage lifelong habits. Children can be taught the importance of hand washing through audio-visuals, which teaches them the benefits of handwashing. Ask the child to sing a song or practice counting while they wash their hands to ensure they do not rush. Parents can also reward kids every time they wash their hands successfully. Using soaps depicting cartoon characters or figures can encourage them to hand wash. Children are silent and keen observers of their parents. They treat them as their role models. Hence, remember to practice proper hand washing first, as it is rightly said, "practice what you preach."
Are There Any Downsides to Handwashing?
Handwashing is a part of hand hygiene. Taking care of the skin is also important, as the skin is the most effective barrier against infection. Washing hands often with soap and water may result in dry, cracked skin. This may be uncomfortable and increase the threat of skin infection. After handwashing, the following skin care tips may benefit:
Dry hands with a clean towel.
Apply a moisturizing hand cream at least three to four times a day or more often if the hands are constantly in water to lubricate the skin, lock in moisture and prevent further drying.
Wear protective gloves when gardening to protect the hands against cuts, insect bites, or ingrained soil.
Use heavy-duty dishwashing gloves when washing dishes to protect your hands.
Consult a doctor if skin irritation develops or continues.
With proper handwashing, one can prevent the occurrence of many diseases. Moreover, it can become a habit more than a practice if it is imparted since childhood. So it is better to appreciate the power of hand washing. Just 20 to 30 seconds of hand washing practice can save one’s trips to the doctor's office. Because kids watch and learn from their parents, ensure to model good hand hygiene to keep the family healthy.
Frequently Asked Questions