Importance of Hand Hygiene to Prevent Infectious Diseases
You’d be astonished to find out how many diseases are spread due to poor hand hygiene. It is estimated that keeping hands clean can massively reduce diarrheal deaths, by up to 50%. And it’s not just diarrheal infections; you can greatly prevent respiratory infections by a simple hand wash. But then again, it’s not just how often you wash hands; a lot depends on how well you do it—the right method to eradicate the smallest of the pathogens.
When was the last time you thought about how you wash your hands? You’ve been doing it all your life – but have you been doing it correctly?
At this point you will wonder, ‘How can I wash my hands incorrectly?’ It’s not as elementary as it appears – hand washing is a careful process that must be done right.
Did you know that to wash your hands thoroughly, you'll need to take around 40 seconds to a minute, or roughly the time to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, to get them properly clean? You may not want to sing it out loud, but it's a handy reminder for you to take the time you need to wash your hands! It’s not as easy as rinsing your hands, dabbing hand wash, working up a quick lather and rinsing off again.
Good hand hygiene can significantly reduce the spread of harmful bacteria and other germs that can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting and other harmful infections. Follow these 8 steps to perfect your hand washing technique.
Hand Washing Steps
1. Wet your hands and apply liquid hand wash
2. Rub it on your hands and between your fingers
3. Make sure to rub it on the back of your hands too
4. Don’t forget the back of your fingers and thumbs
5. Remember to clean your fingernails as well
6. Finish off by soaping your wrists before rinsing the liquid handwash off
7. Rinse with clean running water
8. Dry with a clean towel or paper towel
With so much going on, it’s easy to forget about washing hands. So try to make it a routine that becomes a daily habit. Leave yourself a note, draw on your hand, set a reminder on your phone, or write out this list until you no longer have to tell yourself to clean your hands using the hand washing steps outlined above.
Hand hygiene on the go
Of course, you can’t always get to soap and water when you’re out and about. But the lack of access to soap and running water should not deter you from having hygienic hands. You can use an alcohol based hand sanitiser such as Dettol Hand Sanitiser which kills 99.9% of germs. Apply a coin-sized amount to your palm and massage it over both hands until the sanitiser has completely disappeared.
This is especially useful before eating, and if you’ve been in busy places like shops, parks and on public transport. But remember, you should still wash your hands if they are visibly dirty. Use of hand sanitisers by children should be done under adult supervision.