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The Importance of Hand Washing (General Health)
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The Importance of Hand Washing

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According to the US Center for Disease Control, approximately one in three people do not wash their hands after using the washroom on a consistent basis. The hands can pick up dangerous bacteria and viruses that cause various medical conditions from coming into contact with everyday public objects like door knobs, handrails, or elevator buttons. For more information about bacterial infections, visit www.skincareguide.ca/conditions/bacterial_infections.html.

According to Health Canada, up to 25% of the population will get the flu this year, and up to 1500 people can die from complications resulting from the flu. Due to recent focus and attention on wide-scale flu epidemics, more attention is being given to proper hand washing techniques, and the importance of hand washing, which has been neglected by many in the past. The World Health Organization has set out a formal guideline in hand washing for healthcare professionals in response to recent developments with Avian Flu and SARS, which has plagued the world.

Proper Hand Washing:

First, don’t neglect to wash your hands. Its importance cannot be understated. Those of you that do wash your hands regularly may not know that there is a proper technique to washing your hands. Read the instructions below for proper hand washing:

1.    Wash your hands in warm water for at least 15 seconds. Be strict about this, as most people don’t wash their hands for this long.
2.    Using soap, rub the hands together vigorously. The friction that this creates helps to destroy the germs.
3.    Ensure that you do not omit the area between your fingers and under the nails.
4.    Using a clean and dry towel, dry your hands. After use, ensure that you hang the towel for drying.
5.    If you are using a public washroom, assume the taps and the doorknobs to be contaminated. Use the paper towel that is available in the washroom to turn off the tap, and to open the door.

Alcohol wipes, hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps

Alcohol wipes and hand sanitizers are often found in public buildings like banks these days. While these products do help in the fight against germs, they will not replace simple hand washing. These products do not kill all types of germs, and they do not provide any protection against germs that you pick up after using these products. Also, alcohol based products dehydrate the skin, and can be irritating to those with sensitive skin.

Antibacterial soaps, since their initial introduction in the 60s have been popular, especially among people who are in industries that require extra precaution, such as the medical industry.  These products are, however, very drying to the skin, and often aggravate hand and body eczema. For more information on eczema, visit www.eczemaguide.ca.

Will hand washing protect me from all germs?

Hand washing is one of the most practical and most important factors in reducing the spread of germs, but by itself, it will not make you immune to catching or spreading germs. Quite simply, there are too many germs out there, and too many places to catch them. Hand washing, for example, won’t prevent you from picking up germs after the washing. There is also a limit to how often one can wash their hands, and washing excessively can dehydrate and irritate the skin.

There aren’t any reasons to be paranoid about germs, but being conscious of them certainly helps you prevent catching and spreading germs and colds. A new antimicrobial product that takes cream or lotion form shows promise, and is now available in the market. In Canada, Safe4Hours™ is available for the food and health services industries and for the general public. It is a hand lotion with Triclosan, which kills germs, and a new bonding ingredient called Invisicare®, which keeps the product on the skin for hours, and stays on the skin even after hand washing. For more information, visit www.Safe4Hours.ca.

Related:

general health,   hand care,   hand washing,   prevention,