How to keep hands free from germs


Hand washing is one of the best and easiest way to keep hands germ-free. This article explains the various steps involved in proper handwashing and also about the use of hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available.

Introduction

Hands frequently come in contact with different areas, and with various people. Since they are exposed all the time, they become easily contaminated with germs. These germs enter the body and can cause various illnesses. Some of these microorganisms may not be very threatening to health but can cause sickness. They make the person prone to bed for a couple of days. One such infection is a common cold. Others can be deadly such as hepatitis A and also, the most common one coronavirus which is threatening the entire world today. Thus, it is better to take care of hands and keep them germ-free as much as possible by making use of gloves, hand sanitizers, hand washes, and keeping them away from highly contaminated areas. We need to have good knowledge about proper handwashing technique and how often to wash hands to keep them germ-free. Below-mentioned is some tips that give information on how to thoroughly clean hands and make them free from harmful germs.

Why should we maintain hand hygiene?

Why should we stress so much on frequently cleaning our hands and keeping them germs-free? Maintaining hand hygiene is the easiest step that can be taken to prevent germs and infections from entering inside our body. Below-mentioned points help us to understand how maintaining hand hygiene helps us to remain healthy.

  • Contaminated hands can bring sickness. Many have the habits of frequently touching their eyes, mouth and nose. They do it unintentionally. Dirt and germs from the hands get transferred to eyes, mouth and nose and from there enter inside the body. From here starts the spread of infection and leads to various illnesses.
  • When we come in contact with commonly touched areas in our homes and public places such as handrails, chairs, benches, doorknobs, ATMs, we are transferring germs from our hands to those areas. When others touch those surfaces, germs get transferred to their hands. It is very likely they may fall ill. Thus, by not maintaining hand hygiene we are not only making ourselves ill but also becoming a cause for others sickness.
  • Frequently getting rid of dirt and germs from hands and keeping them clean by washing them prevents skin and eye infections. It also prevents respiratory-related infections such as common cold, flu and the spread of dreadful coronavirus. The chances of suffering from gastrointestinal illnesses such as diarrhoea decreases.
  • Foods prepared without washing hands properly may spread germs from hands into food. These germs very likely may multiply in number. When such food is eaten can bring sickness. Also, food eaten without properly washing hands is a way of transferring germs and dirt from hands inside the body.


Avoid these habits to keep hands germ-free

  • Do not cough or sneeze on hands. Use a handkerchief or a tissue paper for covering the nose. When suffering from common cold and flu, never cough or sneeze on hands or in open to prevent spreading of germs.
  • When in public places or crowded areas, try as much as possible to prevent touching commonly used surfaces such as handrails, buttons in lifts, doorknobs and benches. These surfaces are touched by numerous people and some of them might be sick. Touching them increases the risk of infection. After using ATMs, immediately use hand sanitizer to prevent the risk of contamination.
  • Avoid coming in contact with ill people to avoid the transfer of germs. Take extra precautions when visiting them or taking care of them. Try to avoid hugs, kisses and handshakes with them. One can take care of them but one has to also maintain a necessary distance to prevent the spreading of infection. If accidentally touched them or came in contact with the surfaces touched by them, immediately use a sanitizer to clean hands.
  • Avoid using the same plate which is used by someone in the home who is sick. Here, sharing is not caring. A little carelessness can create havoc. Wash their utensils and clothes separately, and later thoroughly wash hands to make sure they are free from germs. If possible wear gloves while washing their utensils or clothes or serve food in disposable plates.


Steps involved in proper handwashing

  • Step 1-
    The first step is to wet hands under running water. No amount of liquid hand wash can produce lather if hands are not wet enough to assist in the process. Place hands under running water for a few seconds to wet the hands. Too much hot water should be avoided as it may damage skin and burn the hands. Instead, use cold or warm running water.
  • Step 2-
    The second step is to produce enough lather to get rid of germs and dirt from the hands. We can either use a soap bar or a liquid hand wash or soap in powder form. Rub it in between palms of the wet hands to produce enough lather. When coming from outside or after cleaning garbage bins and toilet areas, it is essential to clean hands with antibacterial soaps. Rest of the time a regular cleaning soap can be used.
  • Step 3-
    The third step is to cover the hands with lather. Vigorously rub the produced lather making sure all the areas of hands are covered such as front and back of the hand, in between fingers and even under the nails. It is essential to properly cleanse hands for at least 20 seconds to get rid of most of the harmful microbes from them. If the aim is to make hands germ-free, do not cut down the time.
  • Step 4-
    The fourth step is to wash away the lather in running water. Once done with the scrubbing process, rinse the lather from all the areas of the hand under running water. Rinsing is as important as scrubbing. Leaving any residue or lather in any area of the hand is not good for hand hygiene.
  • Step 5-
    The last step is to thoroughly dry hands. Most of us skip this step of hand washing. We do not properly dry our hands or we leave them partially dry. Along with proper handwashing, we need to make sure that they are dried using an air dryer or a personal towel. Do not keep a common towel for all family members as it can spread germs. Microbes multiply in a wet environment. Thus, leaving hands wet defeat the purpose of properly washing them.


Precautionary measures

Though we clean our hands properly and frequently but sometimes a small mistake can ruin all the efforts and become an obstacle for us in maintaining proper hand hygiene. Below-mentioned is some measures which we need to undertake along with hand cleaning.

  • When we turn on the tap with dirty hands, we are transferring germs to it. After we thoroughly clean our hands and turn it off, we are transferring back those germs to our hands. The purpose of hand cleaning does not get fulfilled. Thus, instead of turning off taps with washed hands, use an alternative method such as use a disposable tissue paper. Turn it off using it and throw the paper in the garbage bin. Also, we can use our elbow to turn off the tap and keep our hand's germ-free.
  • Make sure the commonly touched surfaces in our home are disinfected regularly. Otherwise, they can easily spread infections among family members. Some of them are doorknobs, taps and toilet seats. Use antiseptic cleansing agents available commercially. We can also prepare the liquid by mixing one tsp of bleaching powder into two litres of water. Wear disposable gloves and disinfect commonly used areas using the solution. Dispose of the gloves and properly clean hands.


Use hand sanitizers

While we are outside, it becomes difficult to wash our hands using soap and water. In such cases, hand sanitizers come in handy. Hand sanitizers can never serve as a replacement for washing hands with soap and water. They can be used as an alternative method of cleaning hands. Accidentally if we have touched something dirty, suspicious or something that is contaminated, we can use hand sanitizers to kill the germs from our hands. It can get rid of bacteria and other germs very effectively. Make sure to purchase alcohol-based one, and the alcohol content should be at least 60% in it. Alcohol-based sanitizers contain a higher concentration of alcohol which is effective in killing harmful microbes as it denatures proteins.

One disadvantage of hand sanitizer is that it is unable to get rid of oil and dirt left on hands after eating food. If there is dirt or grease on hands make sure to clean it with a handkerchief or a paper napkin. Once done take enough amount of sanitizer in the palm which should be able to cover all the areas of hands. Rub the palms together. Make sure front and back of hands are covered properly. Rub it in between fingers and even under the nails. Continue rubbing until it dries which usually takes around 30 seconds. Instructions are mentioned on the sanitizer bottle. Follow them properly to free hands from bacteria and other harmful germs.


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