Health Mat­ters: Wash­ing hands

In to­day’s col­umn, Dr. Paul talks about one of the sim­plest ways to pro­tect your health

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - NEWS - DR. PAUL ROUMELIOTIS

Com­mon in­fec­tions such as the flu and the com­mon cold are caused by germs that can spread very eas­ily, es­pe­cially in preschool and school-age chil­dren. These germs, ei­ther viruses or bac­te­ria, are tiny and not vis­i­ble with­out a mi­cro­scope. So they can spread “in­vis­i­bly” from one per­son to an­other in sev­eral ways:

Di­rect “hand-to-hand” con­tact or touch. In­di­rect con­tact; for ex­am­ple, if a per­son un­know­ingly touches an in­fected sur­face like a toy, a tele­phone, or a door han­dle and then touches his/her own fa­cial area

Virus droplets are passed through the air, for ex­am­ple by cough­ing or sneez­ing.

De­spite all of the amaz­ing med­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies and ad­vances like vac­ci­na­tion, san­i­ta­tion and an­tibi­otics, one very sim­ple tech­nique still re­mains one of the best ways to pre­vent the spread of in­fec­tions. That ’s right, hand wash­ing. Count­less stud­ies have shown that hand wash­ing is a highly ef­fec­tive way of pre­vent­ing the spread of bac­te­ria and viruses. Given that we are en­ter­ing the cold and flu sea­son, I thought I would re­view the proper way to wash your hands:

- Wet your hands with warm run­ning wa­ter.

- Ap­ply liq­uid or foam soap. Do not use bar soap.

- Rub the soap vig­or­ously into lather over all sur­faces of your hands.

- Con­tinue wash­ing for at 15 to 20 sec­onds in or­der to re­move germs (about the length of the song “Happy Birth­day”).

- Pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to your fin­ger­tips, the area un­der your nails, be­tween your fin­gers, on the back of your hands and the base of your thumbs.

- After 15-20 sec­onds of clean­ing, rinse your hands well un­der warm run­ning wa­ter

- Dry your hands well with a paper towel. Pat them dry, in­stead of rub­bing them, to help pre­vent chap­ping.

- Turn off the wa­ter tap us­ing the paper towel and then throw it into the garbage.

- Get into the habit of wash­ing your hands be­fore and after pre­par­ing, han­dling, serv­ing or eat­ing food, after any con­tact with any­one who has an in­fec­tion, and of course after go­ing to the bath­room.

It is also a good idea to teach chil­dren at an early age too. Chil­dren of­ten carry and spread in­fec­tions, so it would be im­por­tant that they learn to wash their hands as early on as pos­si­ble. Be­fore they can wash their hands on their own, par­ents and care­givers should wash their hands for them.

Since I am on the sub­ject of in­fec­tion pre­ven­tion, here are a few other tips par­ents and child care­givers should know:

Chil­dren should be taught to cover their mouth and nose when cough­ing or sneez­ing.

Fa­cial tis­sues should be used for runny noses and to catch sneezes. These should be im­me­di­ately put into the garbage after each use.

Avoid kiss­ing your child on or around the mouth or face.

Par­ents and other care­givers should al­ways wash their hands after chang­ing a baby’s di­a­per.

Hand wash­ing may seem lowtech on this high-tech era, but it is one of the best ways you can pro­tect your­self and your fam­ily!

GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Wash­ing of hands with soap un­der run­ning wa­ter.

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