Hand Washing Prevents the Spread of Cold Germs
Amazingly, about 80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. According to the CDC, the simple act of hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of vital and bacterial infections. Yet some findings reveal that about many Americans using public restrooms don't wash their hands before leaving. People also forget to wash their hands before preparing meals.
Why Does Cold Prevention With Hand Washing Work?
Germs are often transferred to others through household objects -- telephones, doorknobs, toothbrushes, and faucet handles. But the biggest transportation center for germs is your hands. That's why frequent hand washing gets rid of the illness-causing germs and helps to prevent the spread of some diseases -- especially if a family member, friend, or classmate has a cold or flu virus.
A program called "Operation Stop Cough" was begun at a military recruit training command center in Illinois. As part of this program, recruits were told to wash their hands at least five times a day. After two years, the hand-washing team reported 45% fewer cases of respiratory ailments, compared with the weekly rates of illness among recruits during the year before Operation Stop Cough started.
How Should I Wash My Hands for Cold Prevention?
Many of us get so busy, we simply forget to wash our hands properly. Here's the rundown:
- First, wet your hands with water (contrary to popular belief, the temperature of water does not matter). Then apply soap.
- Now, rub your hands together vigorously for 15-30 seconds. Make sure to rub the wrists, between the fingers, and under the fingernails. When you have time, use a nailbrush, as bacteria often hide under nails.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly and dry with a clean towel.
- If you are in a public restroom, shut the faucet off with a paper towel. Try to push the door open with your shoulder, or use another paper towel to turn the knob.
Cold Prevention With Hand Washing: How Much Is Enough?
Wash your hands frequently throughout the day -- before and after you eat, after using the bathroom, after school, and after handling any contaminants like raw meat, unwashed vegetables, or garbage.
Also wash your hands after coughing, or touching your pet. If you are babysitting, wash before and after changing the baby's diapers and before and after feeding the baby.
What If I'm Not Near a Sink?
Keep an alcohol-based sanitizer for hands if a sink is unavailable. (Some experts believe the hand sanitizers may be more effective at killing bacteria and viruses than soap and water.)
Rub the entire surface of your hands, fingers, and wrist with the sanitizer, then let it dry. You can use this throughout the day if you're not near a bathroom. Follow up with a thorough hand scrub when you're near a sink, to prevent buildup of the sanitizer.