Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, healthcare professionals are stressing on the importance of washing hands. A small act like handwashing can actually save lives. This World Handwashing Day (15th October), let us talk about why you need to clean your hands. And if you haven’t got a hand sanitizer or hand wash yet, get one now!
Germs: They are everywhere
Deadly microbes that trigger illnesses like COVID-19, flu, cholera, chickenpox, conjunctivitis, Hepatitis A and B can be living on the skin of your hands. How? Because they reach your hands when you touch common objects like currency coins/ notes, public transport handrails, toilet flush, washroom door knob, lift knobs, office utilities, etc. They can survive on your hands for hours. And if you eat with unwashed hands, touch your nose or eyes with them, then you are sure to catch COVID-19 or any of the other contact transmission diseases.
Handwashing – your weapon against germs
According to scientists, approximately 1 million deaths a year can be avoided if people routinely wash their hands. So, wash hands every time you touch something outside your home.
So, how does handwashing work?
1. Water and soap/liquid hand wash
Liquid hand wash contains skin-friendly ingredients that are lethal for germs. These chemicals can destroy any surface-dwelling bacteria, viruses, or fungi. When you hold your hands under running water, any microbes left are washed away, leaving your hands clean and pathogen-free.
Propanol and isopropanol with which alcohol-based hand sanitizers are made can kill cells (only microbes, not your skin cells). Alcohol destroys the protein structure of the virus, bacterium or fungus as soon as they come in contact. So if you are travelling, carry an alcohol hand sanitizer with you.
The correct handwashing technique
Handwashing can only be effective if done the right way. If you are using water and handwash-
- Wet your hands
- Take a coin-sized dollop of handwash
- Rub to create froth
- Interlink your fingers and rub to get the soap to the spaces between your fingers
- Now lather the back of your hands up to the wrists
- Pay attention to the base of the thumbs which are often overlooked during handwashing
- Make sure you wash the underside of your nails where dirt and germs accumulate
- Wash thoroughly with flowing water
Scrub your hands with hand wash and water for at least 20 seconds.
If you are using alcohol-based hand sanitizer-
- Squirt out about 3 ml of the hand sanitizer
- Just like regular hand wash, rub the alcohol-based sanitizer between your palms as well as the back of the hands
- Pay special attention to the skin between your fingers
Hand wash vs hand sanitizer: which one should you opt for?
In terms of destroying germs, both handwash and alcohol-based hand sanitizers are equally effective. If you are at home or in the office, use liquid handwash and water as this method can also remove dirt, which hand sanitizers can’t. Always use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.
Handwashing is a simple and cost-effective way to keep your loved ones and yourself safe. Prevention is better than cure. So, make a habit of using liquid handwash and hand sanitizers right away.