Our hands are always at work. From writing, lifting, typing, driving, and holding, it’s as if our hands only get to rest when we sleep. That and the fact that our hands are always in contact with objects make it susceptible to microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
This exposure can lead to various diseases like allergies, mouth infections, and even notorious hand-foot-and-mouth disease. This condition is a mild, contagious viral infection that can spread through direct contact with unwashed hands and surface contaminated by feces. Toddlers and children are prone to this infection as they are active and in the stage of exploring their surroundings.
But all these can be avoided if we keep our hands clean. It can be done through regular handwashing, use of antibacterial products, and most importantly, good hygiene. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta USA, the practice of hand washing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine that reduces the spread of diarrheal and respiratory diseases. It is also one of the best ways to reduce contact with germs, avoid contracting illness, and prevent the spread of bacteria to others. Here are five steps to perfect the handwashing technique.
In addition, hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, or tissue wipes are good alternatives especially when you are outside with limited access to water and soap. These items are handy in such situations.
- Wet hands with clean, running water. Turn off the faucet and apply soap (an antibacterial soap is ideal) on your hand
- Lather hands by rubbing them together with soap, and spread it throughout from the fingers, under the nails, the back side, palms, down to the wrists.
- Scrub hands for 20 seconds. To give you an idea of a 20 second count, try humming the happy birthday song twice.
- Rinse hands well under running water.
- Dry hands with a clean towel. You can also try to air dry them.
Hand hygiene should be practiced and frequently done especially in these instances:
- Before, during, and after preparing food or when cooking and eating
- Before and after taking care of someone who is sick
- Before and after treating wounds
- After cleaning the surroundings or objects, and touching garbage
- After using and cleaning the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up your child once he or she is done playing outdoors
- After blowing, coughing, sneezing, and sniffing
- After touching or playing with animals
Here’s another tip: after washing and drying your hands, apply a small amount of hand lotion or hand cream, and rub it all over them. This helps moisturize the hands and ensure that they remain smooth.