Proper and regular hand washing is a good, simple and correct way to stop the spread of many infectious diseases that can be transmitted by unclean hands.
These can be the classic cold, flu, contagious jaundice or infections that are caused by ingesting unclean food or water. The merit of dirty hands in the spread of intestinal infectious diseases is so important and obvious that intestinal infectious diseases such as typhus, paratyphoid, dysentery and the like are called “dirty hand diseases”. Also, the role of the hands in the spread of intestinal worms, ie parasites, is important.
How does infection occur?
Our skin is not sterile. There are microorganisms on the skin that are permanent “inhabitants” of our skin. They are also called normal skin microflora.
They play a significant role in protection against pathogenic microorganisms that are responsible for causing the disease. Also, each of us comes into daily contact with pathogenic microorganisms that, when they penetrate our body, can lead to disease.
Hands get dirty with a lot of microorganisms from the environment. For example, Staphylococcus aureus lives on the skin and nose of about 30% of people, as a seemingly harmless bacterium. We call this condition colonization.
But the so-called MRSA(methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a major cause of nosocomial infections, including pneumonia, complicated skin and soft tissue infections.
They have great clinical and economic significance, especially in hospitalized patients. Microorganisms are found on almost all objects and beings with which we can be in contact. Some microorganisms accumulate on the skin of the hand from time to time. They are not constantly present and we call them transient microflora.
Potential pathogens can be introduced into the body through contaminated hands in several different ways – through the mouth, nose, mucous membranes of the eyes, damaged skin. The entrance can present even the smallest open scratches. Also, food can be infected with dirty hands and in that way it can be infected with pathogenic microorganisms, the so-called alimentary toxic infections.
How is the multiplication and spread of dangerous microorganisms prevented?
Infections, diseases and other complications that can be transmitted with dirty hands can be prevented only with regular and proper hand hygiene. Regular and proper hand washing should be introduced into the daily rule of our children in early childhood. Wounds, cuts and other scratches must be protected with bandages, plasters or protective gloves.
When to wash your hands?
It is necessary to wash your hands when they are visibly dirty.
You should also wash them:
- Meals and during food preparation
- Breastfeeding or feeding a child
- Activities performed with children(especially with a newborn)
- Touching the mouth, nose, or eyes
- Contact with a sick person
- Meals or food preparation
- Toilet use
- Diaper changes(check our article if you have problems with diaper rash)
- Wiping the nose or coughing and sneezing
- Touching objects contaminated with body secretions or blood
- Contact with a sick person
- Contact with animals
- Garbage removal, cleaning and the like
- Return to the house after a walk, playing in the park, shopping, playing sports, etc.
What does hand hygiene mean?
Before washing your hands, it is highly recommended to take off your jewelry and watch. Hands should be washed under running water. It is also desirable for the water to be lukewarm, not hot, because too hot water can lead to skin damage.
Liquid soap should be used for hand washing, and if you use solid classic soap, it should be washed under running water after use and stored so that it is dry.
If we talk about the best solution, they are definitely antimicrobial and antibacterial liquid soaps. It is necessary to rub the entire surface of the skin of the hands well: palms, forearms, parts of the skin between the fingers, the area under the nails. All this should take at least 30 seconds to be effective.
After soaping, hands should be washed well and dried. If a towel is used to wipe your hands instead of a paper towel, the towel should only be used for your hands and should be changed frequently. Also, it is desirable for only one person to use it.
If you wash your hands in a public toilet(restaurant, cafe, public toilet, etc.), wipe your hands with a paper towel. Also close the faucet with a paper towel, avoiding any contact of the washed skin with the faucet. The used napkin should be thrown in the bucket. When leaving the toilet, avoid touching the surrounding area with washed hands.
What are the most common failures in hygienic hand washing?
Hand hygiene and imperfections that occur with it occur when they are washed insufficiently for a long time, not often enough or with an insufficient amount of disinfectant.
Often, not all parts of the hands are washed. Too long or artificial nails, damaged nail polish and jewelry(if not removed) can be a special risk and danger.
How good is it to disinfect your hands?
After washing the hands, it is very desirable, and in some situations it is necessary to disinfect the hands. To that end, the World Health Organization today recommends disinfectants based on ethyl alcohol or isopropanol. Said disinfectants are used to minimize or completely destroy the number of transient microflora. The duration of the hand disinfection effect depends mostly on the means used and the way the process is performed. It should be borne in mind that each hand sanitizer contains instructions specifying the duration of disinfection.
Disinfectants should be chosen wisely and carefully. Their active ingredients, specifics and characteristics should be taken into account. There are several forms on our market: liquid disinfectants, various gels and the like.
Always keep in mind that most diseases are spread through dirty hands. Therefore, special attention should be paid to their hygiene.
The World Health Organization, published instructions on how to wash your hands properly. See it below: