We all know the importance of washing hands but many a times we skip this simple step, unmindful of the harm it may be doing to us. In fact, there have been times when we have even done with merest of rinsing because we don’t feel the need of using a hand wash.
Did you know picking bacteria through hands is the fastest and easiest way to catch communicable diseases such as Hepatitis, influenza or even common cold? We can pick this not only from areas that we feel are dirty such as toilets but even from some of the most common places that seem harmless. For example, your office door could have been touched by someone who didn’t wash his hands after using the toilet or by someone who is suffering from flu and hadn’t washed his hands after sneezing into them. Your gym’s treadmill, the office computer or the metro coach you travel in, all harbor dangerous bacteria and make you vulnerable. Understandably, you can’t avoid touching these surfaces but what you can do is follow simple hand hygiene rules. And it is indeed possible without being obsessive.
We spoke to Delhi-based Dr Raman Sardana, senior consultant, Department of Microbiology at Apollo Hospitals and additional director, Medical Services, and Chairman, Infection Control, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, to know the rules of hand hygiene.
You must wash your hands after:
– You use public transport or even your own vehicle. Not only public transport but even your personal car is loaded with germs. So always wash your hands as soon as you reach office
– You visit the gym. Researchers believe that gyms are hot spots for germ activity. One of the most notorious virus, Norovirus, is responsible for causing stomach pain, diarrhea and is commonly found on the surface of exercise machines.
– You visit toilet at your home or outside. You must wash your hands not only after passing stool but also after urination. A lot of people do not wash hands when they use the toilet for urination. In short, wash your hands with soap every time you visit the loo.
Other times when you should wash your hands is when you attend a sick person in the house, before eating and feeding your child and before and after consuming medication.
The right handwash/sanitiser
One should always opt for emollient-based gels, as they keep your hands soft regardless of how many times you use them. Also, your sanitiser should have 70-80 per cent alcohol – ethyl alcohol or iso propyl alcohol.
Drying your hands after washing is critical too
Never leave your hands damp after washing them. A recent study revealed that almost 85 per cent of microbes get transmitted through moist hands as compared to 0.06 per cent with dry hands. Moreover, you should avoid using used towel to dry your hands, instead opt for paper tissues or air dryers.
The right technique to wash hands
Washing your hands is extremely essential and so is the right technique to do it. A lot of us don’t wash our hands enough to prevent infections. World Health Organisation (WHO) has laid out the six-step process to wash hands:
Wet your hands and take a dollop of hand wash or soap.
Now rub your palms first with your fingers closed, followed by fingers interlaced.
Now put your right palm over left and rub between your fingers. Repeat with left palm.
Now interlock your fingers and rub the back of them by turning your wrist in a half circle motion.
Hold your left thumb in right palm and rub in rotational motion from the tip of the finger to the end of the thumb. Switch hands.
In the end, scrub the inside of your right hand with left fingers closed and switch to the other hand
Visit hospitals only when essential
We all assume that hospitals are breeding grounds for infections. While may not be entirely wrong, there is another side to it. “Not only are visitors susceptible to catching infections when they visit hospitals but they can also transmit infections. Many patients in the hospital have low immunity and if any visitor is a carrier of any sort of infection, even mild infection, they are putting the patient at risk, since they don’t have the resistance to fight infections,” adds Dr Sardana.
Also, children should not be brought to hospitals as visitors.