Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs, especially the seasonal flu virus. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands. (NOTE: Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning. Keep it out of reach of young children.)
When should you wash your hands?
- Before, during, and after preparing food.
- Before eating food.
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
- Before and after treating a cut or wound.
- After using the toilet.
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.
- After handling pet food or pet treats.
- After touching garbage.
Good hygiene practices includes washing hands and also keeping
fingernails trimmed and clean. Common infections associated with
lack of proper hand washing and hygiene include:
- COLD AND FLU.
- GASTROENTERITIS, caused by viruses such as noroviruses and rotaviruses (Rotavirus spreads easily among infants and young children.) People who are infected with rotavirus shed rotavirus in their feces (poop).
- HEPATITIS A, a highly contagious viral infection of the liver transmitted by either person-to-person contact or consumption of contaminated food or water.
a bacterial infection with symptoms that include
watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever that can be caused by
ingesting food contaminated by infected people who do not wash
hands after using the bathroom.
- HAND-FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASE, a mild, contagious viral infection common in young children — is characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus.
Visit kcourhealthmatters.com to learn more details about these and other infections that can make you sick.
Handwashing 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, grocery store carts, 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.
Source: American Journal of Public Health, CDC