Hygiene is a series of behaviors executed to maintain health and prevent the transmission of diseases from one person to another. Maintaining good hygiene improves overall wellness and quality of life. Many practices come under good hygiene maintenance, such as:
- Regular hand washing
- Hand sanitization with alcohol-based hand sanitizers
- Daily bathing with soap and water
- Facial cleanliness
- Not sharing personal items
- Covering your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing with a tissue or your sleeve
- Brushing your teeth daily in the morning and before going to bed
- Avoid touching infected objects or surfaces, and if you accidentally contact them, properly wash or sanitize your hand to get rid of pathogens.
Why is cleaning hands important?
Hand washing is one of the simple habits that helps in protecting you and your loved one from many health conditions. Many germs get deposited in our fingernails, nail beds, or in-between our finger space during work. These germs proliferate and are ingested, which leads to many diseases. Numerous contagious diseases can spread from contact with an infected person, including gastrointestinal, respiratory infections, and COVID-19 infections. Appropriate handwashing with soap and water removes kills germs from our hands and prevents transmission of germs from one person to another.
Hand sanitizers kill the disease-causing pathogens and germs from our hands. The disease-causing pathogens can transmit from infected persons or from touching the infected surface when we accidentally contact our eyes, nose, and mouth with infected hands.
Proper handwashing technique
We can’t keep our hands free from disease-causing pathogens all the time, as we do a lot of activities and accumulate germs on our hands. Hand washing is one of the most potent ways to shield us from many infectious diseases. Following are proper steps for washing hands to avail maximum protection:
- Firstly, wet your hands with fresh running water and apply a considerable amount of soap or hand wash solution
- Make good foam on your hands by rubbing them. You should wash your hand thoroughly, including the back and front of your palm, between your fingers, and under nail beds.
- After rubbing the soap or hand wash, scrub your hands and nails for a minimum of 20 seconds, and also don’t forget to clean your wrists.
- Rinse your hands with clean running water, and make sure you don’t waste water by keeping the tap on while washing your hands.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or tissue paper or by hand dryers if available.
Hand sanitization technique with sanitizers
Hand sanitizers are becoming more popular for hand hygiene with the recent outbreak of COVID-19 infection. They are very convenient for keeping hands germ-free. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60% of alcohol) can effectively kill the germs. You should follow proper steps to sanitize your hands, including:
- Take an appropriate amount of sanitizer in your hand and rub your hands together.
- Rub the sanitizer thoroughly, covering both the back and front of your hands and in-between fingers until your hands are dry.
Hand sanitizers come in handy in many situations, but handwashing with water and soap is more effective.
When to wash or sanitize your hands?
Practicing cleaning hands, either by washing with water and soap or using sanitizer, can help you and your loved ones stay healthy. Following are some advisable times when you should clean or sanitize your hands:
- After returning from outside
- Before and after preparing the food
- Before and after eating your food
- After using the washroom
- Before and after changing diapers or cleaning your child
- Before and after helping sick people
- After touching your face mask or eye protector
- Before contacting your eyes, nose, or mouth
- After touching contaminated surfaces such as door handles, shopping carts, tables, or electronic devices.
- After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
- After touching any animal or pet
- After handling waste and garbage
Benefits of hand hygiene maintenance
The crucial advantages of hand hygiene are:
- It removes and kills many pathogens from our hands, thus protecting us from many infectious diseases, such as diarrhea and other intestinal conditions, eye infections, and infectious respiratory conditions.
- It inhibits the transmission of many contagious diseases from one person to another.
- It helps in decreasing the chances of antibiotic resistance as dependency on antibiotics decreases.
Teaching your child about the benefits of handwashing and asking them to follow the process during childhood becomes a healthy habit in adulthood.
On this World Hand Hygiene Day, let’s value the importance of hand hygiene to improve health and keep many preventable infectious diseases at bay.
Dr. Gitali Bhagawati | Consultant and Head, Department of Microbiology and Infection Control | Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi