Hands are the main pathways of germ transmission during health care. Hand hygiene is the most important measure to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent health care associated infections.
WHY NEED TO WASH OUR HANDS?
Feces of human or animals contain germs like Salmonella, E. Coli, and Norovirus that cause Diarrhea , and other respiratory infections like Adenovirus and Hand foot mouth disease. These kind of germs can get into hands after people use the toilet or change the diaper , or in other ways like handling raw meats that have invisible and large amount of animal feces in them.
A gram of human feces contain one trillion germs. Germs can also get onto hands if people touch any object that has germs on it if someone previously touched it and thereby contaminated it. When these germs in hands are not washed off , then they can be passed from person to person and make people sick.
Handwashing Education in the community reduces the number of people who get sick with Diarrhea by 23-40% , reduces Diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune system by 58% , reduces respiratory illness like cold , in the population by 16-21% , reduces Absenteeism due to Gastrointestinal illness in school children by 29-57% .
HOW TO WASH OUR HANDS PROPERLY?
The correct way to wash hands is – wet your hands with clean , running water , turn off the tap, then apply soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the back of your hands , between the fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for atleast 20 seconds.
It is very important to wash our hands before cooking to prevent the spread of germs in kitchen. Hand washing in kitchen prevents cross contamination.
WHEN SHOULD I WASH MY HANDS?
Different situations where people can pick up germs are: Before touching our eyes, nose , mouth or face. When hands are visibly dirty, after using washroom , after blowing our nose or sneezing in our hands, before and after eating food, drinking , smoking . Touching raw meat, or fish, visiting or caring sick people, before and after treating cut or wound, before inserting or removing contact lenses, and handling pet animal wastes .
ANTIBACTERIAL SOAPS AND HAND SANITIZERS
It is true that regular soap and water does not kill microorganisms but they create slippery surfaces that allow the organisms to slide off. Antibacterial agents should be chosen carefully based on their active ingredients and characteristics . Hand sanitizer or waterless hand scrubs are used if there is no water present nearby . Some of these products are made of ethyl alcohol mixed with skin softeners and other agents .
They are often available as gel , or on wipes . Alcohol based hand sanitizers should contain atleast 60% Alcohol . Sanitizers does not eliminate all types of germs and might not remove some chemicals .
Chlorinated water at 0.05% is not recommended for routine hand hygiene because it has skin and other toxic effects , and soap is easy to find and can be used effectively .
ACTION TO BE TAKEN BY PARENTS
Handwashing can become lifelong healthy habit if they start teaching it at an early age . Give kids frequent reminders of how and when to wash hash hands. Parents should help their kids develop hand washing skills and make handwashing a part of their daily routine. When your family is healthy , then they will not have to worry about missing out on work , school and other activities .
Hand hygiene is a key component of good hygiene practice in the home and community and can produce benefits in terms of reducing infection , like gastrointestinal infections but also respiratory tract and skin infections . we can conclude by saying that ” a clean hand is a caring hand ”.