Washing your hands reduces the transmission of infections and contagious diseases, a major cause of preventable disease and death that plague many countries in the world.  This is another form of protection and prevention.  And like most habits, we have to get used to the routine.  Once we are accustomed, we can adapt ourselves to any environment.

What should we know about hand washing?

Our hands have thousands of microbes, many of them responsible for viral and bacterial infections.  This can affect us on a lesser or greater scale, and compromise the different organs in our bodies.  For many of these diseases symptomatic treatments exist.  There are also other ways to fight off the causal germ.

These measures are fundamental to control diseases.  And great strides have been made on a worldwide health scale.  Unfortunately, none of these are as easy to implement or more effective than a simple hand wash.

If we do not wash our hands correctly or if we refuse to wash them at all, we can become infected and then infect others.  Our germs can spread all over when we touch our eyes, the hands of someone else, or even our nose.  There are also many outbreaks of food related sickness that result, because someone didn’t wash their hands well or didn’t wash them at all.

Why is it important to wash your hands?

  • It greatly reduces the possibility of getting or spreading diseases like:  respiratory, gastrointestinal and skin ailments.

  • It avoids the transmission of germs in general.  And it is especially important in the hospital environment to reduce the transmission of microorganisms resistant to antibiotics.

  • It reduces absenteeism at work and school.

  • It can help to prevent epidemic outbreaks within the population.

When should we wash our hands?

BEFORE:  preparing or serving food, eating or drinking, curing a wound, handling scrapes, burns or blisters, treating someone who is sick, placing or removing contact lenses.

AFTER:  going to the bathroom, blowing your nose or sneezing, coughing or even blowing a child’s nose.  This includes manipulating raw food and garbage, curing a wound, handling newborn babies, helping someone to use the bathroom, playing sports, using public transportation, playing outdoors or playing with pets.

How should we wash our hands?

Use soap and water.  Wash the surface of your hands very well, including wrists, palms, front, back and fingers.  Rub hands briskly for 20 seconds, soap well and dry using a towel or disposable paper towel that does not damage your skin.