Thousands of bacteria live on every square centimeter of your hands. Washing them is one of the quickest, easiest ways to prevent illness and even save lives.
“Handwashing is one of the most important current measures to prevent transmission of infectious pathogens in the hospital and at home,” says Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Joel Terriques, MD. “If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. However, alcohol-based gel is not an effective measure against certain diarrheal illnesses, including Norovirus, Cryptosporidium and Clostridium difficile.”
Follow these five steps every time.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.