It’s always important to practice good hand hygiene, but that’s especially true during cold and flu season. Contact with other people throughout the day, touching contaminated surfaces (such as doorknobs and desks), and even petting animals can cause a variety of cold-causing germs to accumulate on your hands. Then by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, you can infect yourself if you don't wash your hands often enough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of these germs.
Read on to learn when and how to wash your hands, and what to do in the event that soap and clean, running water aren’t readily available:
When to Wash Your Hands: To prevent infecting yourself and others with cold or flu germs, experts - including us - recommend practicing regular hand-washing. Most importantly, wash your hands thusly:
- Before and after preparing or handling food, especially when handling uncooked meat
- Before eating
- After using the bathroom
- After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
- After touching an animal or animal waste
- After changing diapers
- After handling garbage
- Before and after treating wounds
- Before and after touching a sick or injured person
*As you might guess, washing your hands in a number of these scenarios will help prevent the spread of a number of germs!
How to Wash Your Hands: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following five steps to prevent the spread of germs:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
- Lather by rubbing hands together; be sure to cover all surfaces.
- Continue rubbing hands together for 15 to 20 seconds — sing 'Happy Birthday' twice in your head.
- Thoroughly rinse hands under running water to ensure removal of residual germs.
- Use paper towels or an air dryer to dry hands.
How to Use an Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer: Alcohol-based hand sanitizers make a good substitute for hand-washing when soap and water are not available. A recent study showed that while soap-and-water hand-washing was most effective in removing the influenza and cold viruses from the hands, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer was a close second. When using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, apply product to one palm, rub your two hands together, making sure to reach all surfaces, and continue rubbing until hands are dry.
Scientists estimate that our hands may transmit up to 80% of all infections, so hand washing is key to stopping the spread of germs and staying healthy. If you have more questions about hand hygiene or the spreading of cold and flu germs, our team at Genesis Medical can assist you. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, find your nearest location and contact us today!