It sounds like common sense, but doctors and the Centers for Disease Control think it bears repeating - hand-washing is by far one of the best ways to prevent germs from spreading and to keep you and your family from getting sick.
It’s the first line of defense against germs – such as bacteria and viruses – can be transmitted several different ways, especially by touching dirty hands or other contaminated surfaces.
“Hand awareness is knowing where your hands are and what they are doing at all times,” said Will Sawyer, M.D., a solo family physician in Cincinnati.
When germs are picked up by your hands, you can unknowingly become infected simply by touching your eyes, nose or mouth (also known as the “T Zone”). Once you are infected, it is usually just a matter of time before the whole family comes down with the same illness because they also plant germs in the T Zone
“I recommend everyone follow the four principles of hand awareness:
1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating.
2. Do not cough into your hands.
3. Do not sneeze into your hands.
4. Above all, do not put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth.
Good handwashing is your first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses – and not just the common cold. More serious illnesses such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, influenza, hepatitis A and most types of infectious diarrhea can be stopped with the simple act of washing your hands.
Make sure to wash your hands correctly several times a day using warm water, lathering soap for 10 to 15 seconds, rinsing and drying your hands with a clean towel.
Do not underestimate the power of handwashing; the few seconds you spend at the sink could save you trips to the doctor’s office. And above all, “Do not touch the T Zone,” says Sawyer, to insure you do not “give” yourself the flu or flu-like illness.
Germs are spread through:
• Contaminated water and food;
• Droplets released during a cough or sneeze;
• Contaminated surfaces;
• A sick person's body fluids;
• Touching your eyes, nose or mouth (the T Zone).
Minimize the germs passed around your family by making it a rule to wash hands: • Before eating and cooking;
• After using the bathroom;
• After cleaning around the house;
• After touching animals, including family pets;
• After visiting or taking care of any sick friends or relatives;
• After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing;
• After being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.);
How to wash your hands correctly
• Use warm water.
• Use soap and lather up for about 10 to 15 seconds (antibacterial soap is not necessary—any soap will do).
• Make sure you get in between the fingers and under the nails where uninvited germs like to hang out; and do not forget the wrists.
• Use a nail brush at least once a day.
• Rinse and dry well with a clean towel and turn the faucet off with the towel.