Hand Hygiene 101
Clean hands save lives, but here’s what you need to know.
Germs are everywhere! They can get onto our hands and spread to anything we touch. Keeping our hands clean by washing them with soap and water is key to stopping the spread of germs and disease. If there is no soap and water, apply sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
There are important differences between washing your hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizer. Soap and water remove all types of germs from hands, whereas sanitizer kills certain germs on the skin. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs, they should only be used in the absence of soap and water, which are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing germs like norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and Clostridioides difficile, as well as chemicals. Hand sanitizers may not remove harmful chemicals, including pesticides, and heavy metals like lead.
Handwashing reduces the presence of germs, pesticides, and metals on the hands. Knowing when to clean your hands and which method to use will help you to prevent sickness.
Source: Materials Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov
How to keep your hands clean, safely
Too much hand washing can strip away the skin’s protective layer of natural oils and wax, leaving them dry, cracked, and vulnerable to infection. Those predisposed to eczema may experience worsening symptoms. For this reason, always wash your hands with mild, fragrance-free soap using warm and not hot water, and do not lather too much. Using soap is safer than using hand sanitizer, so keep a small bar of mild soap with you at all times. Avoid sanitizer containing methanol which can irritate the skin and if ingested lead to all sorts of health problems.
Pat your hands dry with a towel after washing and moisturize immediately. Always keep a moisturizer with you to use after you wash or sanitize your hands through the day.
For help, medical advice, or information, call us on 0773 511 511.
Our doctors are also available on audio/video consultation via E-channelling, DOC990, ODOC, and MyDoctor.lk, or simply by calling 0773511511, during this difficult time.