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. It's quick and simple, and it can keep us all from getting sick.
Five facts about hand hygiene
- Handwashing equals happiness: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing can prevent one in three diarrhea-related illnesses and one in five infections, including the flu.
- Beware the twin killers for kids: About 1.4 million children under age five die from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia — the two most deadly afflictions for children worldwide.
- The dirty secret of public restrooms: The CDC reports that only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women washed their hands after using a public restroom.
- Handwash your way to health: Using antibiotics creates antibiotic resistance. Handwashing prevents many sicknesses, so people need less antibiotics. Therefore, less antibiotic resistance.
- Sneezes are mini hurricanes: A typical human sneeze exits the body at about 200 miles per hour and emits around 40,000 droplets into the air.
When should you clean your hands?
- After using the restroom
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching hospital surfaces such as bed rails, bedside tables, doorknobs, remote controls, or the phone
- Before preparing or eating food
- Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
- Before and after changing wound dressings or bandages
Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. 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.
- Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.