Hand Washing and Personal Hygiene
Hand washing is the best way to prevent infections, but it must be done often and correctly. Just getting your hands wet isn’t enough to keep you healthy. To wash right you need three things:
Soap can be a liquid in a dispenser or a bar of soap. If you use a bar of soap, keep it in a clean soap dish that allows the soap drain. When it sits in a puddle of water the bacteria on the soap multiply and grow. Then you could be washing on more microbes than you are washing off. The water should be warm and running in a good stream out of the faucet. It is important to apply friction (rub) on all parts of your hands; the palms, the backs, between the fingers, the thumbs, the wrists and under the fingernails. Lots of rubbing will make the soap lather well. If you wear rings, scrub underneath them. They need washing too. It’s best not to wear rings because they make great hiding places for microbes and are hard to wash around. Don’t take your rings off when you wash. Scrub carefully around your rings. Rinse your hands well to remove all the soap lather and get rid of the slippery feeling. Start rinsing at your wrists. Try not to touch the sink as you rinse. Sinks have lots of microbes in and around them. In a public restroom you should leave the water running while you dry your hands with a paper towel. Then use the paper towel to turn off the faucets. At home you probably will use a clean cloth hand towel. Dry your hands well to keep your skin from becoming chapped and cracked. Cracked rough skin make more hiding places for microbes.
It’s not a good idea to wear fingernail polish. It usually chips and cracks making rough places for microbes to hang on. File your nails smooth and don’t bite your nails or hangnails. Keep your hands out of your mouth. Always wash your hands before you eat, after using the bathroom, before you prepare food and when they become dirty.
When your hands need to be washed but no sink and water are available, a gel or liquid hand washing substitute can be used. If your hands have real dirt on them that you can see, you should use soap and water washing instead of the gel.