By Kirsten Falcone, RN
Cold and flu season has begun.
Remember to wash your hands!
Did you know washing your hands is the best proven way to reduce the spread of illness? Wash your hands before and after touching food, after using the bathroom, after contact with another person (such as shaking hands), and after they are soiled. You can also wash your hands as soon as you walk in the door of your dorm room or home, to keep your roommate or family from catching anything you drag in with you. Hands can become “soiled” even if they do not appear that way. Some ways this can happen are by touching your face, touching common surfaces that may contain microorganisms, or from poor hygiene.
Not everyone knows the proper technique for washing hands. Here it is:
- Using tepid or warm (not hot) water, wet your hands and then lather up with soap. Antimicrobial soap is not necessary; any hand soap will do.
- Let the water run, while you lather and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds (long enough to sing the Happy Birthday song twice).
- Make certain to wash under your nails, between your fingers, the backs of your hands, and even your wrists. Rinse these areas well.
- Keep the water running, while you dry your hands on a paper towel. (Or have a separate cloth towel for each roommate or family member.)
- Finally, turn the water faucet off with a dry paper towel or clean cloth towel.
If you are not able to wash your hands, using a gel hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative. Use enough to wet the entire area, and rub it in until the gel is dry. (Two exceptions are when hands are visibly soiled, and when you have already used hand sanitizer several times.)
For more information, please visit these Web sites:
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):