Why Is it Important to Wash Your Hands?
Published May 26, 2014
Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly is one of the most important measures you can take during sore throat season.1 Throughout the day you may be touching objects, surfaces, or other people that are harbouring germs. Later, as you touch your nose, eyes or mouth, you are unknowingly allowing these germs to enter the body and possibly cause illness. Some germs can live for up to three hours on your skin and on objects such as telephones and stair railings,2 but regular hand washing can help you prevent picking up germs from your environment and stop you from passing them on to others. To avoid a sore throat this cold season:
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently throughout the day, especially before eating, after going to the bathroom and after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing. It is also important to remember to wash your hands after attending to sick children and other family members, after using the toilet and following a visit to the supermarket or a trip on public transport.
- When water is not available to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.1
- Teach your children to also follow the same good hygiene practices.
How to wash your hands properly
While it may seem like common sense, sometimes we may become a little lax with our hand hygiene methods. By washing your hands correctly this winter season you can help protect yourself and others from the germs that can cause a sore throat. To clean your hands properly:3
- Wet your hands with warm water.
- Apply liquid soap and lather for 15-20 seconds. While also being more convenient to use, liquid soap is considered to be more hygienic than bars of soap, particularly in public places.3
- Rub hands together across all surfaces to remove dirt and germs. Do not forget the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
- If possible, remove rings and watches or at least clean underneath them.
- Rinse well under running water.
- Pat your hands dry using paper towels or hot air driers ensuring your hands are thoroughly dry. Also make sure you dry under rings that you wear as these can be a source of future contamination if they remain moist.
- At home, give family members their own hand towel to use, and wash them often.
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