CHENNAI: Washing hands is one of the simplest habits to ensure prevention of spreading of germs. Ahead of World Hand Hygiene Day, on May 5, Dr Vidya Devarajan, consultant (infectious diseases), Fortis Malar Hospital shares tips to keep your hands clean.
How to wash your hands
● Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Rub your hands together (front and back), lather between your fingers and under the nails. Lather hands well for 20 seconds, and rinse.
● Towel dry or air dry your hands.
How often and when must one wash hands
● Before and after eating and cooking.
● Before and after getting in contact with an unwell person.
● After using the toilet.
●After coughing, or sneezing.
● After getting in contact with an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.
● After touching garbage.
Infections that can be contracted due to not washing hands
● Typhoid: This disease easily spreads by drinking infected water from untreated sources or by hand-to-fecal contact. A person may suffer from symptoms like gas, cramps and diarrhea.
● Shigellosis: A bacterial infection, it includes watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. In the later stages, the stool contains mucus, blood and pus.
● Skin infections: Bacterial conjunctivitis, chicken pox, measles, rashes, eczema. All these diseases can be transmitted by hand contact. So, if one develops such illnesses even after vaccination, lack of hand washing could be the reason.
● Hepatitis A: A highly contagious viral liver infection, it makes a person go yellow and the symptoms include dark urine, nausea and vomiting.
● Worm infestation: It is another common illness that results from not washing hands regularly. Faeces of humans and animals are usually filled with intestinal worms at various stages of development, and you can be infected with it.
● Hand, foot and mouth disease: Spread by direct contact with fecal content, it can affect your skin on hands, feet and mouth.
Effects and dangers of over washing your hands
It is necessary to maintain hygiene, but being a germaphobe could affect your health. Excess washing can dry out the hands, causing cracks and in turn bleeding.
using hand sanitisers
Nothing works best like soap and water. One can use a sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol as a temporary fix if one does not have access to soap and water.