Why You Should Wash Your Hands

February 20, 2020

Winter time is the prime time for illnesses to strike. The cold weather makes it harder for your immune system to fight off infection, but that’s not the only reason; cold weather encourages us to stay inside, leading to more close contact with others through the air we breathe and things we touch.

With this in mind, one of the easiest ways for you and your child to combat sickness is to wash your hands.

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

Some people quickly run their hands under the water, then turn the sink off. That is not enough to eliminate germs that may be on your hands.

Follow these steps to properly wash your hands:

  1. Wet your hands using warm or cold water.
  2. Apply soap to your hands.
  3. Lather every part of your hands — front, back, between fingers, under and around nails — by rubbing your hands together.
  4. Scrub your hands for 20 seconds.
  5. Rinse your hands with warm water from the tap.
  6. Dry your hands off using a clean towel or an air dryer.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer works fairly well in a pinch, but is not optimal for cleaning your hands. It kills many bacteria that may be present on your hands, but there are some bacteria that only soap and water can get rid of.

If you can’t access soap and water, aim for hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

Washing your hands at the right times can drastically reduce the chances of somebody getting sick. Always wash your hands:

  • Before, during, and after food preparation
  • Before and after meals
  • Before and after touching someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating wounds
  • After using the bathroom
  • After coughing, sneezing, or wiping/blowing your nose
  • After changing diapers
  • After cleaning a child who has used the bathroom

Err on the side of caution. If you aren’t sure whether or not you should wash your hands, then do it anyways.

That being said, do not take hand washing too far. Excessive hand washing can result in the hands drying, cracking, and even bleeding; not only is this uncomfortable, but this can make it easier for bacteria to enter the body and cause infection.

Unfortunately, winter — the worst time of the year for illness — is also known for its cold, dry air that can cause dry hands.

This combination of dry air and excessive hand washing could cause a lot of problems.

To be safe, find the gentlest possible soap and use a good moisturizer or lotion to keep your hands moisturized, comfortable, and clean. Apply the moisturizer liberally to prevent the hands from drying out.

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