The Importance of Hand Washing
As we all know, the best way to protect ourselves, and our family from the spread of germs is to wash our hands!
But did you know that there are certain ways to do this that can reduce the spread of germs within your family and the greater community…You can help keep yourself and your family healthy by washing your hands regularly.
The best thing to do is to use soap and water.
Wet hands and apply soap/hand wash. Lather hands well, focusing on the whole hand, including the backs of hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
Keep nails short as bacteria can hide under the nail bed, so it’s much easier to keep this area clean and germ free if nails are kept trimmed.
Remember not to scrub your hands too vigorously as this can lead to cracks and tears in the skin, which can impact on skin hygiene. Don’t rush. It takes about a minute all up to wash and dry hands properly. Leaving hands wet after washing leaves you open to spreading germs more easily. So dry those hands!
Another good reminder is that our hands aren’t meant to be completely sterile (unless you’re a surgeon about to operate) There is no set rule for how many times a day we should be washing our hands, it really depends on your daily activities.
Interestingly, it is not the actual soap and water that kills germs on hands, it’s the action of mechanically rubbing the hands together with soap and water that helps pull the dirt and germs off the hands and down the drain.
When out and about and away from access to soap and water, this is when alcohol hand sanitisers are a great option. But remember they are only effective if applied with the right amount to cover the whole hand area, including in-between fingers, backs of hands and don’t forget your fingertips! Studies have shown that using small amounts (0.2ml-0.5ml- which is the average amount that squirts out of a bottle of hand sanitiser) is no better than washing with soap and water properly.
And after all this washing of hands, please make sure you’re kind to your skin and follow with a good hand cream or lotion. Dry hands can crack, especially in winter when skin is more vulnerable.
Source: Harvard Medical School Health Publishing: The handiwork of good health
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