Hand washing: what’s the fuss?

Posted on 3 May 2018

Studies have shown that proper hand washing can prevent one in three diarrheal-related sicknesses and one in five respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu. While it’s never nice to get sick, in rare cases, complications from infectious diseases can also make one severely ill or result in hospitalisation.

Person-to-person infections have risen steadily since the 1980s, as people continue to live in densely populated areas and have contact with many people on a daily basis, through work, school and even at the grocery store or restaurants.

People often touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without realising it, introducing germs into their bodies. Germs from unwashed hands may get into food and drinks when people prepare or consume them and can be transferred to other objects, thereby spreading infections.

Hand washing matters

Hand washing is by far the best first-line defence against picking up many pathogens or germs. It helps to keep you and your family healthy by preventing infections.

The way you wash your hands matters too because by not following each step carefully, some harmful germs could remain on your hands.

High five for health

Other ways to prevent picking up infections from bad hand hygiene:

  • Avoid shaking people’s hands: rather nod, smile, greet verbally or give them a wave or pat on the back
  • Insist that people who serve your food or pack your groceries follow proper hand hygiene practices especially if they appear ill or touch their nose or mouth
  • Insist that healthcare workers wash their hands or put gloves on before tending to you or one of your family members
  • Make use of the hygiene points dispensing alcohol wipes or sanitisers at grocery stores or fast food outlets
  • Get the family into the habit of washing their hands when they return from school, work, the grocery store or outings.

Reviewed by: 

Dr Owen Wiese a General Practitioner at Intercare Tygervalley and presenter of the TV show Dokter-Dokter on VIA Channel 147.

 

Published in Healthy Life

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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