Hand Washing: Why Is It Important?
Hand hygiene is a crucial aspect of public health, as it can prevent the spread of diseases caused by unclean hands. There is a high chance that many of us skip washing our hands after shopping, gardening, touching our pets, or even using the restroom. Even though it is important for proper cleanliness and sanitation practices, only a few people take them seriously. Because of this, most people get sick with gastrointestinal problems despite living good lifestyles and eating nutrient-rich foods.
What Are Germs?
A germ is a microscopic creature that can lead to disease. Your hands can get contaminated with germs after using the restroom, changing a baby's diaper, handling raw meat, or touching any contaminated surfaces. One can spread germs from person to person if they don't wash their hands. Everyone wants to be healthy, but some diseases have the potential to be quite catastrophic. This is because:
- Germs can live up to three hours on our hands.
- There are about 2 to 10 million bacteria on our fingertips & elbows.
- The germs on our fingertips double after the use of the toilet.
- Dirty hands can transfer germs to the food and drinks we consume.
- The hands spread more germs when they are damp than when they are dry.
Steps to Wash Hands Properly
Washing hands is one of the most practical methods to stop the spread of viral infection. The transmission of germs among people and throughout our communities, including your home, place of employment, schools, and childcare facilities, can be slowed down by maintaining clean hands.
- Wet the hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, & apply soap.
- Rub the soap on the hands to form a lather. Wash the bottom of the nails, between the fingers, and the backs of the hands.
- Spend at least 20 seconds cleaning your hands. Want a timer? Sing "Happy Birthday" twice, beginning to end.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with running clean water.
- Use a fresh towel or an air dryer to dry your hands.
If Soap and Water Aren't An option, Use Hand Sanitizer Instead
The most effective technique to get rid of germs is to wash your hands with soap and water. If it is not available then you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. By reading the product label, we can see if it contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers may substantially reduce the number of germs on hands. However:
- Sanitizers cannot kill all germ types.
- Hand sanitizers cannot work if the hands are visibly greasy or dirty.
- Hand sanitizers cannot remove harmful chemicals like pesticides from hands.
Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizer can lead to alcohol poisoning if swallowed more than a couple of mouthfuls. Please keep it away from young children and supervise their use.
How to Use Hand Sanitizer
- Apply the sanitizer on one palm (read the label to learn the correct amount).
- Cover all surfaces of hands.
- Rub your hands and fingers together until they are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
Diseases Caused Because Of Dirty Hands
The risks you are exposing yourself and others by not frequently washing your hands are listed below:
Airborne illnesses: Cold and Flu, Chicken Pox, Meningitis
Respiratory diseases typically spread when a person inhales droplets expelled into the air by an infected person's cough or sneeze, even by speaking. But these germs are also spread by poor hand hygiene.
Norovirus: Viral gastroenteritis
Norovirus causes viral gastroenteritis and can spread rapidly where hand hygiene is not a priority. It causes Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain symptoms.
This viral infection is often transferred by food contaminated by people preparing it with dirty hands. It can cause liver issues, jaundice, stomach discomfort, fever, and fatigue.
Pink eye, one of the most irritating infections spreads easily. The bacteria that cause pink eyes eventually wind up on a range of surfaces where they might live for hours or even days since people rub their eyes to ease pain. Hand washing helps eliminate the virus or bacteria even before it can spread.
Properly washing your hands before eating will effectively prevent this severe infection. Even if the illness is caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria and toxins, the severity of the disease increases if hands are not thoroughly cleaned.
We already know this one, but to be sure, Covid-19 is one of the most important viruses we must avoid. Only by frequently washing our hands is it possible to stop its transmission. To prevent the transmission of covid-19 and other infections, we must wash our hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and running water.
In conclusion, it's crucial to keep our hands clean and prevent the spread of disease caused by unclean hands. Proper hand hygiene can protect ourselves and others from illnesses and fungal and parasitic infections.
It's essential to be aware of our surroundings, avoid touching contaminated surfaces or people, and wash our hands immediately if we do come into contact with any.
Let us all take responsibility for maintaining good hand hygiene and keeping our hands clean to prevent the spread of disease.