Global Handwashing Day: Handwashing and caring go together

New Delhi: Washing our hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading.

Keeping our hands clean is one of the most imperative steps we can take to avoid getting sick and even spreading germs to others. There are many diseases and conditions which cannot spread by just washing hands with soap and clean, running water.

Dr. Walia Murshida Huda, Senior Medical Officer & Wellness consultant, Healthians, says that it has been seen that there are a lot communicable diseases that can be spread via touch!

• Touching food with contaminated hands mostly spreads food borne illnesses like Salmonella, E. coli, Staph, and diarrheal infection. Proper handwashing can reduce the rate of diarrhea (remains the second most common cause of childhood death.

• Touching our face with contaminated hands spreads illnesses like pneumonia, cold and flu. Proper handwashing can reduce the rate of respiratory infections.

Importance of hand wash in infection control

Hand wash is the primary weapon in infection control. The prevention and control of infectious activities are planned to mostly limit the spread of infection and also to provide a safe environment for all patients, regardless of all the settings.

The main goal of hand wash is to remove microorganisms from the hands, to prevent their possible transfer. It has been known that organisms can survive and even multiply on human hands, creating the opportunity to infect others or even the host. Handwashing can help in reducing the number of transient organisms present on the skin surface.

Handwashing technique

For routine handwashing technique, a vigorous rubbing together of all the surfaces of lathered hands for at least 10 seconds should be done. This can be followed by thorough rinsing under a stream of fresh water. Following is the correct technique of washing hands:

• Wet hands with running water, either warm or cold.

• Use liquid, bar or powder soap.

• Lather very well

• Try to rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. It is important to scrub all the surfaces; this includes the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and even under your fingernails.

• Rinse very well

• Dry your hands completely with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.

It has been seen that most of the bacteria in our hands are present in our fingertips and also our nails.

So while washing our hands few things are there which we need to keep in mind:

• Number of bacteria present on our fingertips mostly doubles after the use of bathroom

• Most of the time people only wash the palms of their hands and miss everything else

• It has been seen that the bacteria count is mostly high on the dominant hand. That is the right-handed people wash their left hand more carefully as compared to their right hand, and vice versa.

When is it important to wash hands

It is important to know when all we should wash our hand, to keep the disease away from us.

Remember to always wash your hands before:

• Before cooking

• Before having your food

• Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person

• Inserting or removing contact lenses

Remember to always wash your hands after

• After cooking, especially raw meat or poultry

• Using the toilet or changing a diaper

• Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste

• Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands

• Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person

• Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated, like cleaning cloth or soiled shoes

Other than this, we should also clean our hands whenever they look or feel dirty!

Handwashing and caring goes together so teach it and preach it!