Handwashing - Why Is It So Important?
Washing hands has been and continues to be one of the best ways to prevent illness. Here is a reminder of the best method for keeping hands clean and staying healthy.
- Wet your hands with water - warm if possible.
- Apply soap and rub hands together, creating a lather on the palms and backs of hands as well as between the fingers.
- Continue rubbing your hands together for approximately 15-20 seconds. (This is where singing “Happy Birthday” twice can help you. Singing “Happy Birthday” twice takes approximately 15- 20 seconds.)
- Rinse your hands in clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean paper towel. Some studies have shown that using a paper towel reduces bacteria on hands, while an air dyer (available in many public bathrooms) does not and may actually increase bacteria, a potential concern to anyone with any condition in which general immunity is compromised.
- When washing hands at home, most of us have a hand towel in the bathroom. Towels can trap bacteria and provide a place for them to multiply, creating a source for illness for the next person who uses the towel. While this is not an issue most of the time, it is especially helpful to place paper towels in your bathroom when someone in your home is ill, or give the person who is sick his or her own hand towel to use.
- When soap and water is not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will work. Apply sanitizer to your hand and rub your palms together, covering both sides of your hands as well as between your fingers. Continue rubbing until your hands are dry. Warning: Keep all hand sanitizers away from small children. Do not leave on a counter or in a place where young children have easy access. If swallowed, see medical help immediately or contact the Poison Control Center.
During the cold and flu season, hand washing is something we can all do to increase our chances for staying healthy.
This article was published in the December 2015 edition of the Healthy U @ Work newsletter from WorkingWell. Courtesy of Complete Wellness Solutions. WorkingWell is a network of occupational health services and part of Franciscan Health. With locations in Northwest Indiana and Greater Indianapolis, WorkingWell’s team of professionals provide high-quality medical care to business and industry, with a primary goal to work closely with employers to ensure employees are “working well.”