Friday, August 17, 2007


How often do you wash your hands? Are you fanatical and wash them more frequently than you need to? Do you only wash them when you really have to? Or do you wash them as often as necessary, but not obsessively?

When I was a student nurse, we learned the proper techniques for hand washing and, of course, the whole bit about how often and when to wash. It’s amazing though, how many people don’t wash their hands properly or often enough.

I have been reading about the debate as to whether people should be using the so-called antibacterial hand washes. I use them and I do encourage my kids to use them in certain situations. For example, my son was working in a store where he would work the cash. We all know that money can be very dirty, so I think that the use of a hand sanitizer when working at a cash is a good idea. When out shopping and handling lots of things and then eating in a fast food cart, I think that’s another great use for a hand sanitizer. But they shouldn’t replace hand washing, in my opinion.

A lot of the actual cleaning is in the movement and action of washing, the running of water and the friction caused by rubbing your hands together. From what I’ve seen, people who use hand sanitizers tend to just rub their hands together and not do the hand washing movement that is needed.

A good hand washing technique is simple, but it can’t be rushed:

- Make your hands wet with warm running water.
- Using soap, rub your hands together, making sure that your fingers rub into the areas between the fingers of the opposite hand. This should take at least 10 to 15 seconds, minimum.
Wash the top of your hands, not just the inside (palms) and don’t forget the thumbs. Apparently, they are often forgotten. Also, remember to clean under your nails and to let the water run under as well.
- Rinse your hands well and then dry with a clean towel.

If you are using a hand sanitizer, you can use the same motions of rubbing your hands together, in between your fingers and remembering the tops of your hands and your thumbs.

We all know that hand washing is important to stay healthy and to prevent the spread of infection, but do we all know how important it is? It’s been documented in the medical literature that the spread of illness drops drastically when proper hand washing is observed. From an anecdotal point of view, when I was just graduating from nursing, I worked in post-partum and nursery. The rules were incredibly strict about hand washing when you were in the newborn nursery. Pretty well every time you turned around, you had to wash your hands. The entire time I was there, I didn’t catch one cold, one virus, one illness. Nothing. It was the healthiest time ever in my life. My hands were raw and red, but I was healthy. :-)

News for Today:
Whiplash may produce delayed jaw pain
Umbilical cord clamping should be delayed, says expert
Are too many people diagnosed as 'depressed?'
Antibacterial agent not so 'anti' after all: study
Osteoarthritis drug Prexige under review by Health Canada
Review backs antidepressant effects of omega-3s
Study: Abortion pills don't bring risks
SARS more dangerous for some, study finds

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great handwashing advice, thanks.

Massage Chairs