The skin on your hands is your first defense against infection from pathogenic organisms. Any cuts or lesions of the skin are possible sources of entry for bacteria and viruses so its care and hygiene are crucial for reducing your risk from acquiring an infection from a patient. Your hands are also the most likely way in which infections or microorganisms might be spread between patients, so simply washing your hands is the most effective method of preventing the transmission of infections.
Medical research has also proven that elevated standards of hand hygiene help in preventing diseases like Flu, Viral Fever and upper respiratory infections.
When to wash your hands
Certain germs and water droplets are released by an individual while coughing and sneezing. Theses fall on hard surfaces like our work stations and survive for 2-3 days. As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Although it's impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.
Always wash your hands before:
Treating wounds or giving medicine.
Touching a sick or injured person.
Inserting or removing contact lenses.
Always wash your hands after:
Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
Using the toilet
Changing a diaper
Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste.
Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands.
Touching a sick or injured person.
Handling garbage or something that could be contaminated, such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes.
Of course, it's also important to wash your hands whenever they look dirty.
Hand washing is the simplest and the most cost effective way of preventing the transmission of infection and thus reducing the incidence of health care associated infections. Washing with soap and water kills many transient micro-organisms and allows them to be mechanically removed by rinsing.
How to wash your hands
It's generally best to wash your hands with soap and water. Follow these simple steps:
Wet your hands with running water.
Apply liquid, bar or powder soap.
Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
If possible, use your towel to turn off the faucet.
Keep in mind that antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap. Using antibacterial soap may even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product's antimicrobial agents - making it harder to kill these germs in the future.
How to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers - which don't require water - are an excellent alternative to soap and water. If you choose to use a commercially prepared hand sanitizer, make sure the product contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Then follow these simple steps:
Apply enough of the product to the palm of your hand to wet your hands completely. Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces, for up to 25 seconds or until they're dry.
If your hands are visibly dirty, however, wash with soap and water. Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are another option, although they're not as effective as alcohol-based sanitizers.
You may use the gel 2-3 times in a day. Please avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your fingers immediately after using the hand sanitizer. If your face feels itchy, please use your upper sleeve to rub that area or use a disposable tissue paper.
A simple way to stay healthy
Hand washing doesn't take much time or effort, but it offers great rewards in terms of preventing illness. Adopting this simple habit can play a major role in protecting your health.