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Handwashing – First Line Defense Against Contagions

Written by Courteney

Posted on December 9, 2016 at 11:44 pm


Aside from getting your annual flu shot, thorough handwashing is the gold standard in flu prevention. It is also your best line of defense against other contagious illnesses like stomach bugs, colds, infections and much more. Regular handwashing among healthcare workers can greatly reduce the number of serious (and deadly) healthcare associated infections in patients. Those who make a practice of regular handwashing are not only helping themselves by removing dirt and contagions from their paws, but also helping prevent the spread of those germs to others.

Let’s take a closer look at how, where and when to get your handwashing on…

When to Wash Up?

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that everyone make a habit of handwashing during the following situations:

  • Before, during and after preparing food (especially meat)
  • Before eating
  • Before and after assisting a sick person in a home or clinical setting
  • Every time you use the washroom (this one should be a no brainer!)
  • After changing a diaper or helping a child use the washroom
  • Before and after tending to a wound
  • After touching an animal or handling a pet’s food, toys or waste
  • After handling garbage
  • After you sneeze, blow your nose or cough
  • Whenever your hands are visibly dirty
  • After being anywhere public where you could have come in contact with contagions

Am I Doing it Right?

Sometimes we may just flick our hands under running water after blowing our noses or chopping veggies, thinking there is no need for a deep wash every time. This is not the attitude to have. The best way to remove germs on your hands is to wet them, lather the front and backs of your hands thoroughly with soap and wash for at least 20 seconds under warm running water every time you wash them.

What Kind of Soap to Use?

Contrary to popular belief, “antibacterial” soap offers no clear advantages over standard soap, and may even have some potentially dangerous disadvantages. Liquid soap may have a leg up when it comes to hygiene, especially in a public area where a bar of soap has been frequently handled by the public. In your own home, a mild bar or liquid soap will both do the job.

What About Hand Sanitizer?

Studies have proven thorough handwashing with soap and warm water to be more effective at deep cleaning than using hand sanitizer, however sanitizer is a close second if you aren’t around any sinks. If running water and soap isn’t accessible, be sure to choose hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.

Try to Find a Balance

Having said all this, it is important not to let yourself become too focused on handwashing and germs to the point you find yourself washing your hands over-zealously, as that can lead to mental health hurdles as well as contact dermatitis. Just stick to the times and method we’ve outlined in our post, and you should be adequately protected.

We’ll be testing you on all these handwashing tidbits in the future, so stay tuned for a handwashing quiz coming up soon! Thanks for visiting DocChat!

 

 

 

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