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Good Hand Hygiene Is Elementary!

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Good hand hygiene is a simple yet highly effective way to limit your exposure to infections. It also is a great preventative action you can take to help keep those around you healthy as well. If you are going to wash your hands or use antibacterial gel, there are some key things to keep in mind. Read our tips for effective hand hygiene so that you can stay as healthy as possible all year long!

A couple of common questions we get at the hospital when we recommend hand hygiene is how often and also when people should wash or clean their hands. While there isn’t a hard and fast number out there that you should wash your hands “x” amount of times per day, here are some instances where you really should wash your hands according to the CDC:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Another concern is the “proper” hand washing procedure. Believe it or not, there is a correct method of approaching hand washing and antibacterial gel use, which will rid your hands of microbes and improve your chances of staying healthy. Here are the five steps to follow each and every time:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to include the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. If you have acrylic nails, be sure to use a brush and clean around them thoroughly.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Try singing your ABCs as a good indicator of time.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, warm running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Make sure to dispose of the paper towel after you use it.

Want to know the “Why” behind these recommendations? Check out this information from the CDC.

When using hand gels:

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Gels do have some limitations. Hand gels shouldn’t be used for excessively dirty or greasy hands, and they work well in place of soap and water except for those times after you have used the toilet. Gels also may not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

With these methods in place, you can reduce your chances at becoming ill and help improve the health of our community!