Washing your hands prevents illness during cold and flu season


This year, December 4-10 is National Handwashing Awareness Week, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. During cold and flu season, it’s important to remember that germs are everywhere. Washing your hands frequently and properly is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on your hands and prevent the spread of illness.

What's the right way to wash your hands?
Even if you wash your hands regularly, you may not be washing them the right way. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following method:

  1. Wet your hands with running water and apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds, creating a lather.
  3. Pay special attention to your wrists, the backs of your hands, your thumbs, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  4. Rinse your hands well under running water.
  5. Use a clean towel to dry your hands, or air-dry them. If you're using a towel to dry your hands, turn off the faucet with the towel after drying your hands. If you are using an air dryer, turn the faucet off with your elbow. 

Be sure to carry hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol with you in the event you don’t have access to soap and water. When using hand sanitizer, rub it on all surfaces of your hands until dry. No water is needed.

When should you wash your hands? 
You should always wash your hands before, during and after preparing food to reduce your risk of catching or spreading the bacteria that causes food poisoning. This is especially important if you’re cooking with raw eggs, poultry, meat or seafood.

It’s also important to wash your hands after going to the bathroom or changing a child’s diaper. This will reduce your risk of catching or spreading infectious diseases like salmonella or hepatitis A.

You should also wash your hands before and after you care for a sick person, after you’ve coughed or sneezed, touched an animal, handled garbage or after you've shaken someone’s hand.

Washing your hands is easy and quick, and it’s incredibly effective at preventing the spread of illness. Doing this one simple thing can go a long way toward protecting your health this cold and flu season. If you've been feeling under the weather, consult a primary care provider with Goshen Physicians.