The truth about hand hygiene everyone should know

Hand washing guide

Have you washed your hands?

I guess this question brings back childhood memories of your mother instructing you about personal hygiene and the need to always wash your hands after using the toilet or before and after meals.

With our busy lives and schedules, we tend to ignore the good habits we were taught, which we should otherwise follow. People do not realize that washing hands before eating and after touching just about anything can help them lead a healthy life in many ways.

October 15 is the Global Hand-washing Day, a day set apart to promote and support the practice of handwashing. The day is a campaign for mass mobilization across all cultures and climes for the entrenchment of the practice of handwashing as a public health initiative.

This brings us to some quick hand hygiene myths we all grow up hearing as we unveil the truth.

Hot water is more effective for washing hands than cold water.

This is so not true: Scientists have found out that the water temperature does not really have any effect on bacterial reduction. Even though hot water might just increase the irritant capacity of some soaps.

Washing hands for long will have better effects

Do you remember the ad that says scrubbing your hands in 15-20 seconds will remove germs faster? Well, that does not mean that you have to count every time you wash your hand, a simple wash with clean water and soap and you are good to go.

Hand dryers are better than paper towels

This is also false: instead, hand dryers can increase the bacterial counts on the hands way more than paper towels. Research has found paper towels to be far superior to hand dryers and can help remove bacteria effectively.

Using hand sanitizers is more effective than hand washing

Although alcohol-based sanitizers are comparatively more effective than other sanitizers, washing hands with soap and water is the best.

How to wash your hands properly?

Do you know how to wash your hands? You may find this question quite embarrassing but researchers have confirmed that most people, even adults worldwide, do not wash their hands the right way.

That lacking has left many with germ-filled hands, hence, coming down with preventable diseases such as diarrhea, and other much severe infections.

Research results indicate that every year, more than 3.5 million children die before their fifth birthday because of diarrhea. In fact, one child dies every 15 seconds from diarrhea-related disease, which, though preventable through a simple act of handwashing, remains the second most common cause of death in children under five in the world.

The Health Survey revealed that only one out of every 10 children washed their hands properly with soap and water, while only 10 percent of the world’s population knows how to wash their hands properly.

Ironically, even adults are worse off.

Researchers have found a quarter of women worldwide and half of the men to be ignorant about the proper way to wash their hands.

According to a report by the Food and Drink Federation, London, not less than 5.5million adults are estimated to be at risk of suffering from food poisoning each year as a result of not washing their hands properly.

Though medical experts say the simple act of handwashing is an important aspect of life, it is often taken for granted. According to the World Health Organization, WHO, handwashing could be an important factor towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, by many nations as it could prevent pneumonia and nutrition-related diseases, as well as help in managing diarrhea and HIV/AIDS.

Hand washing is a habit that should be cultivated and maintained from the cradle to the “grave’’ if we must live healthily.

To wash hands properly the right way, Centre for Disease Control, CDC, advises you:

☛Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.

☛Rub your hands together to make the lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers, and under your nails.

☛Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. If without a timer, it advises you hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

☛Rinse your hands well under running water.

☛Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

After washing your hands properly, the CDC advises you to use a fresh cloth or paper towel to dry your hands completely. Then use the towel as a buffer between your clean hand and then tap to turn off the water.

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