Hand wash prevents disease spread

Research conducted by scientists from Queen Mary University of London (QUAL) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) reveal that our hands are contaminated.

In the UK-wide study, the research reveals that faecal matter is present in 26% of hands, 14% of banknotes and 14% of credit cards.

In general, people are not doing good work when it comes to washing hands. The UN says that hand washing can be cost effective for the control of infectious diseases.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, a co-founder of Hygiene Audit Systems says that many people in the UK do not think that carry any diseases.

Dr.Val Curtis, from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who is leading the UK campaign for Global Hand Washing Day said: “Our research shows just how important hand washing is- the surprising levels of contamination that we found in everyday objects is a sign that people are forgetting to wash their hands after the toilet, one of the key moments for infection prevention”.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. That is why many religions insist that people should bathe before going to the holy places.

Infectious diseases are still the leading cause of death worldwide. About 80 percent of those diseases are transmitted by touch. Less than 50 percent of us wash our hands on a regular basis.

Plain soap and warm water will do the trick for general use throughout the day. Some alternative household cleaners include vinegar and water, lemon juice, and diluted thyme oil. By using them, we can help save the environment. You must keep your house clean and tidy without the necessity of special antibacterial cleaners.

Always wash your hands before: preparing and eating food; serving food and inserting or removing contact lenses. Always wash your hands after: going to the bathroom, changing a diaper, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, touching pets and other animals, playing, collecting garbage, going to public restrooms such as in airports, railway stations, bus stations and restaurants.

Always wash your hands before and after tendering to someone who is sick, treating a cut or wound and handling raw meat, poultry or fish.

Washing your hands is a technique that may be done in four stages. The first step is to wet your hands, preferably with warm water, use soap and lather well for at least 20 seconds, rinse your hands under running water, pat hands dry with a paper towel or air dryer and turn off water using the same paper towel and dispose it in a proper receptacle.

We should not use a common hand towel or a single damp cloth to wash a group of children’s hands. Besides these, do not either use a standing basin of water to rinse hands or use a sponge or non-disposable cleaning cloths because germs thrive on moist surfaces.

If you have to wash your hands a few times a day, there is a possibility that your hands may become dry and avoid drying out. It is recommended to use a moisturizing lotion. A few people are allergic to certain types of soap containing chromium or glycerine.

A report released by the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene says that the idea that people living in cleaner homes makes them more likely to be allergic or to contact other chronic inflammatory disorders is unfounded. Good personal and environmental hygiene is increasingly important.

There are more than 700 antibacterial products on the market-antibacterial soaps, antibacterial l laundry detergent, antibacterial cutting boards, antibacterial baby toys and many others.

These germ-killing products may end up leaving us even more vulnerable to infection, says a Tufts University microbiologist. Although scientific research is still ongoing in this field, it is advisable to avoid or reduce the use of antibacterial products.

Reference: The Journal of the Royal Society for Public Health- January 2013

Thilliar Varnakulasingham has been a regular Indian Newslink columnist. He is versatile on several aspects of health and wellbeing.

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