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Washing Your Hands Of Non-Airborne Germs

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With the frequent outbreak of deadly viruses that cross borders to affect millions around the globe, awareness around personal hygiene practices has increased. With this, the industry to receive the maximum boost is probably the hand sanitizing products industry.

Though one cannot retard the transmission of airborne infections which may transfer through air or droplets, one can reduce the transmission of pathogens that get transmitted from one person to another through touch.

Hand sanitization, whether with soap (normal or anti-bacterial) and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers in the absence of soap and water, takes on added significance for those who are in the medical field (ICUs, burn units, surgery, transplants, oncology, etc.) or those who work in the food (processing, packaging, selling and serving) industry.

This does not mean that keeping our hands germ-free is not important especially before and after certain activities. Washing hands protects us against diseases transmitted through fecal-oral routes and through direct physical contact.

Bacteria and viruses also thrive on surfaces which experience maximum human touch such as school desks, counters of shops and hospitals, shopping cart handles, door handles and knobs, remote controls, kitchen counters, public toilets, coffee tables, currency notes, cell phones, floors, keyboards of our computers, steering wheel and seats of cars and other surfaces we use every day.

Such surfaces are home to millions of pathogens. It is important that at home, we disinfect such heavy usage surfaces once every week with any safe and effective cleaning product to reduce the incidences of coming down with diseases such as flu.

It is believed that using soap and water is a preferred way to clean hands over using alcohol-based sanitizers, especially where one has access to soap and water easily. Though sanitizers claim to kill 99.9 percent germs on contact, this is true on inorganic surfaces and the percentage would be much lower for live or complex surfaces like hands. (1).

Similarly, normal soaps are believed to clean hands just as well as anti-bacterial soaps. The debate has been on for more than five years now with the FDA voicing it’s concern that the ingredients of anti-bacterial soaps could accumulate in the environment and promote potentially dangerous resistant germs. (2)

So when is the time we should be most aware that our hands need to be washed? As per advice on Mayo Clinic, we must wash our hands before we prepare food and eat it, touching a sick person, treating wounds or inserting lenses in our eyes.

The leading health site goes on to add that hand washing is advised even after preparing food, using toilet, touching the sick and animals, treating wounds, changing diapers or sanitary napkins or handling anything potentially contaminated. (3)

Is there a best way to wash hands of pathogens? There is a recommended method, though hands cannot be sterilized. However, proper scrubbing with soap and water on both sides of the palms, around nails, between fingers and wrist (forming a lather) for 30 seconds should take care of most transient germs. (4)

1. Hand Sanitizers vs. Soap and Water; About.com; october 2011; http://biology.about.com/od/microbiology/a/handsanitizers.htm

2. FDA Panel: No Advantage to Antibacterial Soap; WebMD.com; October 2011; http://www.webmd.com/news/20051020/fda-panel-no-advantage-to-antibacterial-soap

3. Hand washing: Do's and don'ts; Mayo Clinic; October 2011; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hand-washing/HQ00407
4. Preventing Infection Through Handwashing; Infection Control Today; October, 2011; http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/articles/2000/07/preventing-infection-through-handwashing.aspx


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman – Tips From A Sufferer: ISBN: 978-81-291-1517-1
Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2

Mentor Your Mind – Tested Mantras For The Busy Woman: ISBN: 978-81-207-5973-2
Publisher: Sterling Publishers; URL: http://www.amazon.com/Mentor-Your-Mind-Tested-Mantras/dp/8120759737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316063179&sr=8-1

and the upcoming
The Urban Woman’s Integrated Fitness Guide
Publisher: Hay House India

She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites.

She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Please visit www.mamtasingh.com

Reviewed November 1, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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EmpowHER Guest

I recommend getting a bacterminator phone cover, they are antibacterial and non toxic for up to three years! I put my iPhone down on desks, tables, bars, etc... who knows what germs I'm bringing home that my kids end up with when they decide to chew on my phone!

November 1, 2011 - 1:44pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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