The importance of hand washing

The importance of hand washingHand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of disease and avoid getting sick because so many illnesses are spread by those who fail to keep their hands clean.

Some diseases spread through fecal-oral transmission (such as hepatitis A and salmonella) while flu and common cold germs are transferred through indirect contact with respiratory droplets or secretions.

Staphlococcal infections with Epstein-Barr virus are spread when hands are contaminated with urine, saliva, or other moist body substances.

Good and frequent hand washing remains the most effective way to avoid the spread of communicable diseases.

It is important to use good technique when washing your hands, by wetting them with clean, running water before applying soap. Next, rub your hands together and scrub them well to form a soapy lather.

Scrub the backs of your hands, between all fingers, and under the nails. Rub your hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing well under running water. Dry them either with a clean towel or by an air drier. Soap and water are best for cleansing but if unavailable, use a 60% or more alcohol- based sanitizer.

Always wash:

• Before and after preparing food or eating, especially if raw meat or poultry are involved.

• Prior to inserting or removing contact lenses, treating wounds, or caring for sick or injured person. • After using a toilet, changing diapers, touching animals, animal toys or waste, blowing you nose, sneezing or coughing.

• After handling garbage, chemicals or any contaminated substances. Parents should encourage children to wash their hands as well as supervising and teaching the proper way to do this simple but necessary task as a regular part of daily living.

Because children may not know how to properly wash their hands, become a good example by having them observe thorough hand washing techniques that you practice – to keep your family healthy and disease-free.

Dr. Carlos Perez is a family medicine physician at the Kendall Family Medicine Clinic, 10725 NW 58 St. Doral. The center is open daily (Monday through Sunday) from 8 a.m. to 11p.m. Tel. 305-629-9644 for information.

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