What has changed about hand washing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? For one, people are more conscious about washing their hands and for another, the frequency at which it is done has increased.
Why is it important that we wash our hands? It is more than important, in our current time and day, it is vital that we engage in this practice as often as possible because a whole lot of ailments can be avoided if handwashing is carried out often and in the correct manner.
Handwashing is a tested and proven technique for keeping germs away. Germs are microscopic organisms that can cause infection. The four main types of germs are Viruses, Bacteria, Protozoa and Fungi.
As we carry out our various activities such as walking, shaking hands, touching surfaces of vehicles and support beams amongst many others, it is impossible to avoid transferring germs from these surfaces to their hands and then consequently to their mouths, eyes, nose and other parts of their bodies or sometimes to other people’s bodies.
This is the endless loop of how germs are spread. Once these germs find a suitable opportunity, they go straight to work by causing ailments such as gastrointestinal infections such as salmonella and respiratory infections such as influenza.
It is not enough to apply soap and water on your hand. Doing it the right way is what makes the difference. What then is the correct way to wash your hands?
This question can be answered by first understanding the right substances to use. They include;
This is basically water that comes directly from a tap or water that is flowing. In essence, the water is not stagnated. When you use a bowl to wash your hands, you get rid of the germs alright, but only for a few seconds because they find their way back to those hands. By using running water, the germs are washed away as the water flows.
Only 19% of people across the world wash their hands with soap after defecating. (Freeman M, Stocks M, Cumming O, Jeandron A, Higgins J, Wolf J, et al., 2014). Washing your hands without soap usually defeats the aim of washing your hands in the first place. Soap is the substance that helps to rid the hands of germs. Regular soaps are okay for handwashing. Liquid soaps are the best, especially in the work place where it is to be used by various people.
A Clean Towel
This is used for drying the hands after washing. The towel has to be clean so that you do not end up picking up germs from its fabric.
Now, what is the correct way to wash your hands.
- Wet your hands under running water, then turn off the tap
- Apply soap and lather for about 20 seconds
- Rub hands together rapidly across all surfaces of your hands, this includes your wrists, between your fingers and your fingernails
- Rinse well under running water and make sure all traces of soap are removed.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or paper towels.
Handwashing with soap has been linked to:
16-23% reduction in risk of acute respiratory infection.
50% reduction in pneumonia.
Substantial reduction in neonatal infections.
Up to 48% reduction in risk of endemic diarrhoea. (Gautam, 2017)
There is no specific number of times to wash your hands. The goal is to remove these germs from your person as often as possible.
On the 15th of October, the world celebrates the Global Handwashing Day. The tradition of handwashing is a forefront weapon for combating the spread of germs that have caused diseases such as Ebola and COVID-19.
Washing your hands frequently keeps various ailments away.
Stay healthy today.
Wash your hands the right way.