The simple act of washing your hands can prevent many illnesses.
“Did you wash your hands?”
For many of us, that was a question we heard often when we were growing up. But hand hygiene is not just for kids. Proper and frequent handwashing is a key way to promote good health. Since National Handwashing Awareness Week is underway, we’re offering some facts about this simple but important act.
Dirty Hands Can Spread Disease
Respiratory and other illnesses can spread if bacteria and viruses get on the hands and the hands touch mucous membranes. Thorough handwashing can limit the spread of such illnesses as:
- The common cold
- Salmonella and other gastrointestinal disorders
- Hepatitis A
When to Wash
Recommended times to wash your hands can be grouped in several categories:
- Before cooking
- While cooking
- After cooking
- Before eating
Addressing Medical Issues:
- Before and after taking care of a sick person
Before and after treating a cut or wound
Dealing With Pets:
- After touching an animal or its waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
Dealing With Bodily Fluids
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
You should also wash after touching garbage.
How to Wash
The best way to wash is with clean, warm, running water and soap. When soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is a good substitute. Some procedures to follow include:
- Removing all hand jewelry
- Creating a soapy lather and be sure to scrub between fingers and the back of the hands
- Humming “Happy Birthday to You” to yourself twice, to make sure you wash the suggested 20 seconds
- Washing and drying your hands thoroughly
The team at North Hills Hospital knows the importance of good hand hygiene. We also know that the you might still develop an illness no matter how well and how often you wash. We’re here to help any time you get sick. If you’d like a physician referral, call us at 1-855-5NHILLS.