Health News

Handwashing - Why it's Important

Good hand washing is the first line of defence against the spread of many illnesses, from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, influenza, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhoea. Some forms of gastroenteritis can cause serious complications, especially for young children, the elderly, or those with a weakened immune system. Drying your hands properly is as important as washing them.

To minimize the germs passed around the family, make frequent hand washing a rule for everyone, especially:

  • Before preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After going to the toilet or changing nappies
  • After touching animals, including family pets
  • After blowing one's nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Before and after visiting or taking care of any sick friends and relatives
  • After using a tissue or handkerchief
  • After handling rubbish, working or playing outside
  • After smoking
  • After cleaning the house

How to wash your hands properly:

  • Wet hands with warm water, cold water is better than no water at all for a 'one off' hand wash.
  • Apply liquid soap and lather for 10 to 15 seconds. Have your child sing a favourite song while lathering up. Liquid soap is better than bar soap.
  • Rub hands together rapidly across all surfaces of your hands and wrists. Don't forget the backs of hands, your wrists, between fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse and dry hands well using a paper towel or single use cloth towel.
  • At home, give each family member their own towel and wash them often.
  • Hot air driers can be used but, again, you should ensure your hands are thoroughly dry.

Take care of your hands

Hand washing is only one part of hand hygiene. Looking after your skin generally is important, as your skin is the perfect barrier against infection. You can help to look after your hands by:

  • Apply a water based absorbent hand cream three to four times a day, if your hands are constantly in water.
  • Use gloves to wash dishes to protect your hands.
  • Use gloves when gardening
  • Consult a doctor if a skin irritation develops or continues.

Thankyou

Jenny Hill
College nurse