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Life in Motion

Hand Hygiene: Wash Your Hands to Stop the Spread of Germs

Health & Prevention

As a patient, a simple practice you can adopt to protect yourself and to stay healthy is to wash your hands. Hand washing is the best method to avoid spreading germs and getting sick. Whether you’re recovering from surgery, at home, working, traveling or out and about here are few simple things to know about practicing hand hygiene.

Wash your hands before and after activities
You pick up germs on your hands throughout the day, as you come across people, surfaces, and objects. Washing your hands often can help to reduce the transfer of microbes, viruses and bacteria to others. Avoid touching your mouth, hands or eyes so that you do not infect yourself. You should wash your hands if they are dirty but you should also wash them before and after activities.

Here are a few examples of when you should wash your hands:

  • Wash your hands before and after if you are a caregiver, or taking care of someone that is sick.

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing food or eating.

  • Wash your hands after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.

  • Wash your hands after household chores.

  • Wash your hands after shaking hands with others.

How should you wash your hands?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these steps to wash your hands.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

  • Dry your hands using a clean paper towel.

Alternative Methods for hand washing

Using soap and water is the best way to lower the amount of germs you may pick up. However, there are some situations where you might not have access to soap and water. In that case, an Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be effective. You should look for hand sanitizers that contain a high amount of alcohol. Another option is to use Antimicrobial wipes. Hand sanitizers; although effective do not eliminate all types of germs.

Practicing hand hygiene and simply washing your hands is a habit that you can pick up to stay healthy. It doesn’t take a lot of effort or time to protect yourself and others from illness. 

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