Importance of hand washing for health
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.
During the Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic, keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading.
Germs can get onto hands after people use the toilet or change a diaper, but also in less obvious ways, like after handling raw meats that have invisible amounts of animal poop on them. A single gram of human feces which is about the weight of a paper clip can contain one trillion germs.
Germs can also get onto hands if people touch any object that has germs on it because someone coughed or sneezed on it or was touched by some other contaminated object. When these germs get onto hands and are not washed off, they can be passed from person to person and make people sick.
Washing my hands this morning before preparing breakfast.
Washing hands with soap removes germs from hands prevents illnesses and spread of infections to others.
This helps prevent infections because:
People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them.
Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy.
Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%
Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%
Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%
Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57%
Did you know?
Not washing hands harms children around the world
About 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, the top two killers of young children around the
Washing my hands with soap and water.
Handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea and almost 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.
Although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. Washing hands with soap removes germs much more effectively .
Handwashing education and access to soap in schools can help improve attendance .
Good handwashing early in life may help improve child development in some settings.
Did you know?
Estimated global rates of handwashing after using the toilet are only 19%.
Handwashing helps battle the rise in antibiotic resistance
Preventing sickness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop.
Handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections (e.g., colds). Antibiotics often are prescribed unnecessarily for these health issues . Reducing the number of these infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat.
Practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections. Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and are becoming difficult, if not impossible to treat.
Creating a safer working environment for medical staff and the patients.
Good medical facilities have the basic facilities for hand washing easily accessible. These facilities should be used regularly by the doctors, patients, and visitors.
Additionally, those facilities need to be absolutely sanitary and the soap dispensers, sanitizers and other items need to be replenished regularly. Also, special waste disposal units need to be in the washroom, as well.
Prevention of diarrhoea and uncomfortable intestinal diseases
Contact with faecal matter laden with the causative bacteria can lead to
diarrhoea and intestinal illnesses. Regular washing of the hands will remove this faecal matter and bacteria from our hands even when we have contacted them from other people or objects.
While there are many treatments of such diseases, they are very stubborn and best prevented. You know what the prevention includes? Of course – regular and diligent hand washing.
Avoidance of common eye infections
Eye infections are commonly caused by the bacteria that get into the eyes from our hands.
However, the common eye infections that happen as a result of direct contact with different germs are: Conjunctivitis (pink eye), Keratitis, Stye, Blepharitis. All these infections start with similar symptoms : redness of the eye, mild pain, itching sensation, blurry vision and the like. Again, while these issues are not very difficult to treat, prevention is a much wiser course of action.
You should never touch your eyes with unwashed hands and your hand washing needs to be thorough.
Obstruction of respiratory tract infections
In the same way, the germs that cause these infections are usually found on dirty hands. Regular washing of the hands will remove these germs easily, keeping you safe.
Experts say that 80% of infectious respiratory diseases like colds and flu are due to dirty hands.
The symptoms can be quite common for all of them: Coughing, Sneezing, Runny nose, Nasal discharge, Nasal congestion. The truth is, the most cases of flu are caused by viruses being transmitted to the wet patches of the face by dirty hands.
Reduction of the bacteria content on your hands
Bacteria have been known to linger on the hands and other objects for days! This means that if you do not wash your hands expecting the bacteria to die, you might be in for a surprise. They will stay on your hands, or even worse – make their way to your eyes or mouth, causing infections.
Bacteria have been known to thrive on paper bills for as long as two entire weeks. This is scary, but regular hand washing can keep you protected.
Keeping your workplace free from bacteria
Regular cleaning of commonly used office equipment with an alcohol-based cleaning product can reduce the number of bacteria on them.
Generally, proper handwashing keeps you healthy.
Hand sanitizers can also be used to reduce the bacteria when there is no soap or water. The use of hand sanitizers will not give the same protection as an actual hand washing but you will end up with fewer bacteria on your hands.
The best practice is to wash the hands properly and thoroughly dry them. After that, finish off with a drop of sanitizer. In that way, your hands will be perfectly clean.
Handwashing is easy, inexpensive, effective, and can help prevent sick days and trips to the doctor!
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