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An Ounce of Prevention In Your Hands

There is a right way and a wrong way to wash your hands. The wrong way would be to give your hands an obligatory rinse with water because no one is looking. The right way, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is:

  • Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
  • Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
  • Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds.
  • Rinse hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

The Mayo Clinic adds this precaution: antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap. Using antibacterial soap may even lead to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product’s antimicrobial agents — making it harder to kill these germs in the future.

If you cannot wash using soap and water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (it should contain 60 percent alcohol) which doesn’t require water is an good alternative. Use enough to wet your hands completely and rub for up to 25 seconds or until dry.

While we’re at it, let’s not forget to clean surfaces around the home often, especially in the kitchen, where improper handling and preparation of food and cross-contamination are a leading cause of food-borne illness.

We’ve known about the benefits of hand washing for a long time. When it comes to taking responsibility for our own health, nothing could be easier.

Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

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79 comments

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8:23PM PDT on Jul 29, 2014

I wish I could convince my young granddaughters that hand washing will keep them healthier.

4:59AM PDT on Sep 10, 2013

Thank you for their information.
How long will the skin last with this kind of washing treatment?

10:46AM PDT on Aug 31, 2013

What to do if you observe someone in a public washroom come out of the stall and then make a beeline for the exit without washing their hands? I've observed this and it makes me sick! Dare a person say something?

8:43PM PDT on Aug 25, 2013

Thanks for the reminders.
Everyone needs to remember to wash their hands regularly.

9:00PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

Mom was right, damn it.

9:20AM PDT on Oct 23, 2010

just wash your hands, its easy

10:41AM PDT on Oct 12, 2010

Thanks for the posting.

10:44PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

To me over protection from germs makes our immune system fragile and ill prepared for situations when one has got no option but to compromise. I never over indulged in hygiene and so must have fallen sick often in my childhood days. But as i grew i am so much less prone to catch virals, flu, cold n cough, stomach upsets etc.

10:37AM PDT on Oct 4, 2010

Question: I've always wondered if, after washing/sanitizing, does the lotion I then apply to dried skin, from above activity,
reintroduce bacteria/germs? Help

8:23AM PDT on Sep 30, 2010

Hand washing is essential.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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