Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.
Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy
You can help yourself, and your near and dear ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during the followingvital times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhoea
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After using the toilet
- After touching garbage
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
Follow the following Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
Follow these simple steps, recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), every time, to wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Apply enough soap to cover entire hand surfaces.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together (palm to palm) with the soap.
- Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Lather palm to palm with fingers interlaced.
- Lather backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked.
- Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa.
- Rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards, with clasped fingers ofthe left hand to the right palm and vice versa.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water
You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol if soap and water are not available.Washing hands with soap and water are the best way to get rid of germs in most situations.
Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,
- Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
- Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
- Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.
Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their usage.
How to use hand sanitizer
- Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
Life is Better with Clean Hands
The adults are encouraged to make handwashing part of their everyday life to set an excellent example for their kids. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps one can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.
How germs get onto hands and make people sick?
Faeces (poop) from people or animals are a source of germs, like E. coli, and norovirus. These germs cause diarrhoea and can spread some respiratory infections, like adenovirus, coronavirus, etc. These kinds of germs can get onto hands after people use the toilet or change a diaper, but also in less obvious ways, like after handling raw meats that have invisible amounts of animal poop on them. A single gram of human faeces—which is about the weight of a paper clip—can contain one trillion germs. Germs can also get onto hands if people touch any object that has germs on it because someone coughed or sneezed on it or was touched by some other contaminated object. When these germs get onto hands and are not washed off, they can be passed from person to person and make people sick.
Washing hands prevents illnesses and spread of infections to others. Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because:
- People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, tabletops, or toys, and then moved to another person’s hands.
- Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhoea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy.
Handwashing education in the community:
- Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 23-40%.
- Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%.
- Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%.
- Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57%.
Not washing hands harms children around the world. About 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two killers of young children around theworld.
- Handwashing with soap could protect about 33% of young children who get sick with diarrhoea and almost 20% of young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.
- Although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. Washing hands with soap remove germs much more effectively.
- Handwashing education and access to soap in schools can help improve attendance.
- Properhandwashing early in life may help improve child development in some settings.
- Estimated global rates of handwashing after using the toilet are only 19%.
Handwashing helps battle the rise in antibiotic resistance
Preventing sickness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhoea-related illnesses and about 20% of respiratory infections (e.g., colds). Antibiotics often are prescribed unnecessarily for these health issues. Reducing the number of these infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most crucial factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics which may be challenging to treat.