The recent pandemic has taught us the value of good hygiene and adequate hand-washing to prevent catching illnesses. With the flu season coming around, it is important to know the proper hand-washing procedure to steer clear of getting sick.
So, how well do you wash your hands? Do you always keep the right techniques in mind whenever you touch things?
While the vaccine is still the most effective way to avoid viral infections, washing hands several times a day remains your sturdiest health shield. Think about it – your regular, everyday life involves making contact with various surfaces like doorknobs, and keyboards, shaking other people's hands, pressing elevator buttons, and many more.
You are constantly exposed to microorganisms, and you may even touch your face several times a day!
It's always "better to be safe than to be sorry." Viruses like the flu and COVID-19 are easily spread through respiratory droplets and physical contact. If you want to stay healthy against germs and viruses, you must wash your hands and do it many times a day.
Are you unsure you are washing your hands the right way? Don't worry; we'll teach you how to get rid of possible illnesses from your hands by using good-old soap and water, how often you should wash your hands, and using hand sanitizer as an alternative.
Washing your Hands Properly to Protect against Flu and COVID
You may have learned as a child that it is recommended you wash your hands for as long as twenty seconds, often to the tune of "happy birthday" sung twice. This advice is correct and must be practiced always.
Of course, the first step is to wet your hands with water from the faucet. While you may think using hot water effectively kills germs, recent study shows that cold water might work the same when it comes in eliminating bacteria.
Heat can indeed kill bacteria and viruses, but if you want to remove them using water, you will need a temperature much higher than the one coming from your tap. Additionally, using hot water for washing may cause skin irritation when done multiple times.
The temperature of the water does not measure the effectiveness of hand washing, but the duration and soap usage do. Speaking of, after wetting your hands, the second step is to lather them with soap.
It does not matter what kind of soap you use as long as you cover every surface of your hands thoroughly. Scrub the front and back of your hands, and make sure you soap your palms, between the fingers, and underneath the nails. If you are wearing jewelry, remove them.
Once you soap every area of your hands, rinse them with water and dry them rigorously using a clean towel or an air-dry towel.
How Often should you Wash your Hands?
You usually wash your hands before and after eating, using the bathroom, and touching raw meat. This is excellent practice since these situations are usually when you are most exposed to bacteria.
Still, since viruses are in season, you might want to consider doing so more frequently.
The circumstances mentioned above are not the only times you should wash your hands. Also, do so after coughing or sneezing since you may spread microbes through the air and physical contact.
Hand-washing should benefit not only you but also other people around you. Wash your hands after touching your eyes, nose, and mouth or whenever you're in a hospital or anywhere with sick people.
You are less likely to wash your hands at home than when you are out in public. Nonetheless, it would help if you will not rely on a certain number to wash your hands. It is better to do it when you feel like you are at an increased risk of exposure.
Using Hand Sanitizers
The problem with handwashing is that sinks are not always available. Thankfully, one reliable alternative to soap and water is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
We recommend using hand sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between sixty to ninety percent to ensure increased efficiency in killing germs and viruses. Of course, they are only effective when used correctly. Rubbing an insufficient amount will not work even if you use the most powerful sanitizers on the market.
To effectively use hand sanitizers, place about a nickel-sized or quarter size amount on your palms and rub them vigorously on the top of your hands, between the fingers, and in your nailbeds until they are dry.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective only when you follow these instructions; they won't work properly if you wipe them off before they dry, use a minimal amount, or miss critical spots on your hands.
Sanitation in the Medical Scene
Proper hand-washing is paramount to preventing infection, especially in the medical industry.
With plenty of immunocompromised patients, hospitals and clinics need to ensure the equipment and tools they use daily are safe. For this purpose, that is when sterile processing technicians come in.
Sterile processing technicians can be considered one of the most valuable members of allied healthcare. Tasked with sterilizing and decontaminating the hundreds of trays of tools and equipment hospitals utilize daily, SPTs protect patients from contracting diseases from bacteria and viruses.
Sterile processing technicians also assist surgeons as they carry out major operations, often by aiding in the organization and distribution of the needed to perform the surgery. And the best part? Sterile processing technicians do not need tertiary education to be accepted for the job.
All one needs to do is attend a training program lasting a minimum of six months, pass the exam, and apply to one of the many open positions in various hospitals. Sterile processing technicians are always in demand as long as medical institutions serve patients.
Are you interested in contributing to patients' health and safety without spending years studying? Learn more about sterile processing technicians and how to become one by connecting with Martinson College.
Read More: Decontamination vs. Disinfection: What’s the Difference?