Washing Hands Importance

Hand washing is one of the most important measures to prevent the spread of disease. Proper hand hygiene can prevent you from getting sick and is also capable of interrupting the transmission of viral, bacterial and parasitic infections to others.

Washing Hands
Washing Hands

Much of the common infections such as colds, flu, food poisoning, hepatitis A, intestinal parasites and many others, are usually transmitted by contaminated hands. Even respiratory infections that can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing, are actually transmitted most often by hands than through the air.

It is no exaggeration therefore to say that the simple habit of washing your hands often can save lives, not only yours, but also those of the people you have contact. This is especially important if you have close contact with babies, elderly or infirm.

In this article we explain why the hand is a way so important for disease transmission. We will also teach at what times hand hygiene is important and what are the right ways to wash your hands.

Why the hand can transmit many diseases?

Think about it: when you cough or sneeze, which is the body part that you use to protect your mouth? When your nose is running, what part of the body do you use to clean it. When you finish evacuate what part of the body that you use to clean? And to flush? When you descend a staircase in a public place, which you use to lean on the railing? And to open doors or hold cash? When the subway or buses are crowded and you stand, what body part you use to support and not fall? And to change the diapers of your baby?

Now reflect: what body part you use to prepare food? What body part you use to eat? And to rub your eyes or nose. And to brush your teeth or floss? How many times a day do you spend the hands on the lips?

Even if you in some of these cases, use cloth or paper to help you, the truth is always the hands that are directly involved in all these activities.

2 Petri dishes
2 Petri dishes
There right now trillions of microbes in their hands. Obviously, most of which are harmless and part of the natural microbial flora of the skin. However, not all microbes in which our hands come into contact throughout the day are harmless.

Just to illustrate the enormity of microorganisms that one hand can adduce, note the image 2 Petri dishes, which are containers used to grow microbes in the laboratory. On the left, we see the result after a person coughing directly against the board. To the right is the result after an 8 year old child lay his hand on the plate. Each ball is a colony of microbes that grew over the days. Each colony has these millions of microbes. The greater the colony diameter, the greater the number of microorganisms.

How hands spread diseases?

There are countless ways of infection being transmitted from one person to another through the hands. Viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites are all germs that can be transmitted by a simple handshake.

We will describe three simple everyday situations to show how this type of contamination is common.

1. A person at your school or work is the flu. She uses hands to protect her mouth when sneezing and cleaning the nose secretions. With unwashed hands; it touches the computer mouse, the slope on the phone, relies on the table and then use the handrail to climb down the ladder. The viruses of the respiratory tract that are contaminated on their hands are transported to all objects that flu person handled throughout the day. The flu virus which has just been deposited in these objects can survive in them for several hours.

Later, you come to the room that the sick person was using. You use the same mouse and keyboard, talking on the phone and supports your hands at the same table. Suddenly, I feel a mild itching in the eyes and innocently uses his hand to scratching them. There, you just take the viruses that were in the environment into his body. If you will get the flu or not will depend now on the virulence of the virus and the competence of your immune system to prevent the replication of this germ that you just purchased. The fact is that there is a high chance you get sick even though he never found the person who handed him the virus.

If the person with the flu had the habit of washing hands after contact with their secretions, it would avoid the contamination of objects used by others. On the other hand, if you had the habit of washing hands before taking them to the eyes or mouth, probably he would not have been contaminated.

2. A person working in the kitchen of a bar or restaurant feel like evacuating during their office hours. In a single gram of feces there are over 1 trillion germs. Even if the person is careful when you clean with toilet paper, the simple act of activating the discharge causes thousands of germs are released into the air. A bathroom, virtually all around the toilet is contaminated. Go to the bathroom and not wash their hands, so it's almost sure to get out of there with hands contaminated by germs that live in feces.

If the cook not washing hands, from this moment, any food he is preparing will be contaminated and may be transmitted to the restaurant customers, especially if they are raw foods. If the cook is contaminated with an illness, the situation is even more serious. After evacuating, your hand may have large amounts of parasite eggs, viruses that cause gastroenteritis, hepatitis A virus or various bacteria that cause diarrhea.

3. A doctor or a nurse spends visit a patient infected with a germ. He looks at, touches the bedding and shakes his hand. Any germ that is infecting the patient, automatically passes into the hands of the physician. Then the doctor goes to another room and repeat the same procedure with the new patient. If the doctor has not washed his hands, you just carry germs from one patient to another. A patient who was hospitalized for a problem, you can end up having a long hospital stay for a nosocomial infection caused by a health staff member who did not perform adequate hand hygiene.

Studies show that hand washing by healthcare staff before and after examining any patient is the most important measure to reduce the occurrence of hospital infection.

When hands should be washed?

To prevent transmission of disease, hands should always be washed in the following situations:
  • Before and after preparing foods.
  • Before you start eating.
  • Before treating any wound or injury.
  • Before and after contact with any sick person.
  • After using the bathroom.
  • After changing diapers or cleaning a child who has gone to the bathroom.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or have contact with any bodily secretion.
  • After shaking hands with someone else.
  • After contact with animals.
  • After handling waste.
  • Every time the hand is clearly with some dirt.

You should also wash their hands after contact with surfaces for public use, such as rail, public transport or money. While you do not have access to the gel in water or alcohol, avoid putting their hands to their mouth, nose or eyes. While the germ is restricted to the skin, it will not make you ill. Our skin is a kind of armor against microorganisms. The problem is that when we take the dirty hand to mouth or played in any wound, we're giving germs access to the inside of our body.

How to wash hands properly?

Wash hands properly
Wash hands properly
So you can eliminate materially from the germs on your hands, the process of cleaning should follow certain steps. Do not just wash your hands with water only, you must use soap. The bar soap is acceptable, but the liquid form is the best.

The washing process of the hands must last at least 30 to 40 seconds. Studies show that if you take less than 10 seconds washing your hands, large amounts of germs remain viable. And if you do not spend 5/2 this process, the end result is virtually nil, as if you had not washed your hands.

Below, we show the best way to wash your hands and eliminate any germ that can cause you some disease.

Plain soap or antibacterial soap?

Although there are a lot of advertising of antimicrobial soaps, reinforcing the conventional wisdom that this type of soap is more efficient, the fact is that it is no better than regular soap and can even harm.

Contrary to what occurs in the antimicrobial soap, the soap common action main mechanism is not to kill the germs, but to make them to be removed and disposed of when the hand is rinsed.

Below, we list the reasons why you should use regular soap instead of antibacterial or antimicrobial soap:
  • 1. Studies show that antimicrobial soaps are not superior to ordinary soaps in preventing the transmission of diseases.
  • 2. Ordinary soap is cheaper.
  • 3. The widespread use of antimicrobial soap can lead to development of resistant bacteria.
  • 4. Studies in animals show that triclosan, the active substance used in antibacterial soaps may cause health problems such as alteration in the functioning of the thyroid, infertility, precocious puberty, or other endocrine disorders.
  • 5. Children exposed to triclosan often have higher risk of developing allergy boards, including pollen allergy, allergic rhinitis and peanut allergy.
  • 6. The antimicrobial soap is more aggressive to the environment than ordinary soap.

Common soap or alcohol gel?

Alcohol gel (with at least 60% alcohol) is an alternative and very effective form of hand hygiene and prevent infection.

Many people prefer alcohol gel compared to soap the following:
  • Alcohol gel is as effective as hand washing.
  • The alcohol gel is not aggressive to the skin than soap base.
  • While proper handwashing delay of 3 to 40 seconds, 20 seconds alcohol gel is longer effective (the time it takes for the alcohol to dry completely).
  • Alcohol gel does not need to rinse.
  • You can carry a small bottle in the bag, having it available at any time.

However, when your hands are dirty or greasy clearly, you should give preference to wash with soap and water. It is also important to remember that alcohol gel is much more expensive than ordinary soap.

Health professionals can use the alcohol gel as a substitute for hand washing, but beware of the fact that alcohol gel is not as effective as soap against the bacteria Clostridium difficile, which is a major cause of diarrhea in patients hospitalized.

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