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Hand-washing: Let's break it down
Wash your hands! You’ve probably been hearing this since you were a kid, but it’s one of the most important, and simple, ways to avoid getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call it the “do-it-yourself” vaccine. Especially during flu season, it’s important to remember how big of a difference this every day task makes for our health and wellbeing, preventing the spread of germs and bacteria that leads to illness and the spread of infections.
Like we learned as kids, just because we can’t see germs and bacteria doesn’t mean they're not there. Just think about how often you use your hands—typing on your computer, petting your dog, eating, borrowing someone’s pencil—you get the point. These germs can get into the body through our eyes, nose and mouth, as well as the foods we prepare and eat. They’re transferred to the objects we touch and share and then spread.
Of course germs are an unavoidable part of life. But being conscious and keeping your hands clean as much as possible minimizes the risks they pose. Old fashioned soap and water is the best way to get the job done, but if you don’t have access, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. It’s a good idea to carry hand sanitizer with you as an extra measure, in case you’re unable to get to a sink and some soap.
Hygiene fast facts:
- 80% of all diseases are transmitted by touch
- Though 95% of the population claims to wash their hands after using a public restroom, only 67% actually do!
- CDC studies show that the number of bacteria per square centimeter on the human body are as follows:
- Scalp – 1,000,000
- Forearm – 10,000
- Arm pit – 500,000
- Abdomen – 40,000
- Hands of medical personnel – 40,000 to 500,000
- The CDC recommends washing hands for 15-30+ seconds, especially concentrating on the areas around the fingernails where most of the bacteria lies
When should you scrub up?
- Using the restroom
- After blowing your nose or coughing
- Touching pets or animals
- Being outside
- Before and after:
- Eating, serving and preparing food
- Visiting with someone who’s sick
- Or whenever:
- Your hands are dirty
- You’re near a sink, some soap, or some sanitizer
…because it never hurts to be hygienic!