How’s your hand hygiene? Six Important Stages of Hand Washing.

 The COVID-19 pandemic has focussed us all on hand hygiene and washing our hands. Our mothers told us to do it before dinner and now our Chief Health Officers remind us to do it and for good reason. The bugs you pick up when you touch something stay on your fingers for 19 subsequent touches. If you are like most people, you touch your face on average 20-40 times an hour. That’s a clear chain of infection which good hand hygiene can disrupt. In a recent survey, 70% of people now count hand hygiene as part of their health routine, a huge shift from pre-pandemic practices.

Does your routine factor in the importance of drying your hands as well as washing them? Damp hands are 1,000 times more likely to spread bacteria than dry hands. We’ve done a roundup of the latest advice and here are the six simple steps all the experts agree on.

It’s straightforward.

How to wash

  1. Wet your hands with warm or cold water
  2. Turn off the tap
  3. Apply soap
  4. Lather and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Back of hands, front of hands and in between fingers. Use the highest quality soap or wash that you can. Atopic eczema is on the rise and cheap soaps can be irritating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) handwashing expert is Dr Vincent Hill. Dr Hill says to wash your hands for 20 seconds and helpfully suggests humming the Happy Birthday song to get the timing around about right.
  5. Rinse well
  6. Dry hands thoroughly.  A quick flick off or rub down the side of the pants or on an apron won’t cut it. Make sure appropriate means of drying are available.Single use paper towels are recommended as best practice. Air blowing hand dryers compromise safety by blowing germs around and towels that get reused might simply replace the germs just washed off.

When to wash

An ICU nurse can wash their hands up to 200 times a shift. Experts recommend you wash hands before, during and after food preparation.  They recommended that you wash your hands before and after eating, caring for a sick person, treating a wound, touching your mask, entering or leaving a public space, changing a nappy or touching a surface frequently touched by other people. Finally, it’s recommended that you wash your hands after using the toilet, touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing,touching an animal or animal waste, handling pet food or touching garbage.

 Finally, if you don’t have access to hand washing facilities, a good hand sanitiser is recommended to ensure hand hygiene is maintained to keep you safe. Hope that helps and stay safe.

The Continued Role of Hand Hygiene and Cleaning and Disinfection in Schools | The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

How to Secure The Safe Return: The Impact Of New Hygiene Expectations - ISSA

Hand_Hygiene_Why_How_and_When_Brochure.pdf (who.int)

 

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