The novel coronavirus outbreak has made people around the world worried and scared for their life. It creates panics. Many people have bought lots of hand sanitizer, paper towels, soap, wet wipes, etc. There is a shortage almost everywhere for those stuff. World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that we should do basic protective measure against the novel coronavirus by washing our hands frequently. Washing hands is one of the most important and fundamental steps of personal hygiene that you can take every day to avoid spreading disease and germs to others. When was the last time you thought about how you washed your hands? You have done it all your life – but have you done it properly?
Why do we wash our hands?
Here are some reasons why we need to wash our hands:
- Many diseases and medical conditions are easily spread only from dirty hands.
- Every day there are around thousands of people die around the world from infections from while they’re receiving health care.
- The main pathways of germ transmission during health care are through our hands.
- Every day, we touch germ covered surfaces, goods, electronic devices, etc.
- Even though experts say do not touch our face, mouth and nose, we can’t deny that we do touch our face frequently.
- Keeping our hands clean is the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent infections.
When to wash hands?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand washing should be done at these following times:
- Before, during and after cooking or preparing food
- Before eating
- Before and after treating a sick person
- Before and after treating open sores or blisters
- After using the bathroom or toilet
- After changing a diaper or cleaning a small child after leaving the toilet
- After handling animals (pets), feeding animals, or cleaning animal dung
- After handling animal food
- After touching the trash or taking out the trash
In addition, you also should wash your hands at these following times:
- Before removing or using contact lenses
- After cleaning, coughing, or wiping a runny nose
- After shaking hands with others
How to wash our hands properly
Did you know that washing your hands is not just rubbing, rinse, and dry? CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) issued detailed and effective hand washing guidelines to kill germs. Here are the steps of proper hand washing based on WHO hand hygiene recommendations:
- Wet your hands with clean running water, turn off the tap, then pour enough soap.
- Rub your hands together. Make sure you rub between your fingers, the backs of your hands, and under your nails.
- Hook your fingers together with your palms touching each other, and rub the inside, alternating the two sides of your hands.
- Then switch positions. Hook the fingers of your left hand over the back of your right hand and rub the backs of your hands alternately.
- Rub the left thumb using the right hand in a circular motion, and vice versa.
- Do it for 20 to 30 seconds. As a reference, you can mumble the song “Happy Birthday” twice during hand washing.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly with running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.
- If possible, turn off the faucet using your elbows or use a tissue to prevent your clean hands from turning off the faucet. Personally I often use my elbow to turn of the faucet or I pour soap and rinse the faucet off first before washing my own hands.
Washing hands with soap is the best way to eliminate large amounts of germs. If you are in a place with no water or soap, use an alcohol hand sanitizer gel. A powerful hand cleansing gel to reduce germs, but can not eradicate the entire bacteria. You may also want to try making your own hand sanitizer. You can find how to do it here.
How to rub our hands with hand sanitizer properly?
Of course you don’t always have soap and water when traveling. But lack of access to soap and water shouldn’t prevent you from getting hygienic hands. Here’s how:
- Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
This is especially useful just before eating, also when you are in crowded places such as shops, parks and public transportation. But remember, you still have to wash your hands if they look dirty. The use of hand sanitizers for children must be done under the supervision of parents.
Regular soap or antibacterial soap?
Antibacterial soaps that are sold on the market are apparently not more effective in killing germs when compared to ordinary soap.
One 2015 study in South Korea compared the effectiveness of ordinary soap with antibacterial soap with 0.3% triclosan against a panel of bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus for 20 seconds as a testing method recommended by the FDA.
As a result, the two soaps work equally effectively in cleaning hands from bacteria, but soap containing triclosan takes longer to work effectively to kill germs. One guess is that the other supporting compositions in the soap slow down the antibacterial ability of triclosan.
In addition, several studies link the long-term and unnecessary effects of triclosan, including antibiotic resistance to germs, allergies, and hormonal disorders. One study even linked long-term exposure to triclosan with the possibility of cancer potential.
The results of this study then require antibacterial soap manufacturers to attach scientific evidence to support the claims of antiseptic effectiveness of their products.
I hope you learned new things from this post about the steps of proper hand washing based on WHO hand hygiene guidelines.
Washing hands does not require much time and effort, but provides a myriad of benefits for the health of you and your family. Help your children to get used to washing hands by showing them directly how to wash hands properly.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
Thank you for reading today’s topic: The Steps of Proper Hand Washing: WHO Hand Hygiene