Hand hygiene is our first line of defence against many transmissible diseases, including the flu virus. We use our hands to contact objects and surfaces that may be contaminated with micro-organisms of all sorts. I am typing this article on my laptop, and now that I look at it, I see that the keys have a level of natural oils on them and dust has collected between and below the keys. I know that if I looked at the keys with a powerful enough microscope I would find many bugs, some of which might cause illness. The same could be said for pens, door handles, chairs, steering wheels, coins etc. All of which are regularly contacted by the hands of many people. It is not difficult to imagine how bacteria and virus particles can be easily passed from one person to another via these surfaces.
Our hands are natural breeding grounds for bacteria. Our skin is warm and moist with sweat and oils, providing all a growing bacterial colony needs. Most of the bacteria on our skin are harmless and even pathogenic bacteria cannot normally penetrate healthy skin. But if the skin is cut or broken or we put our hands near our mouth or eyes then bacteria and viruses may find a way to enter our bodies and perhaps make us ill.
Wash and Dry Your Hands Regularly
Washing and drying your hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand gel is the single most important measure for preventing the transmission of disease from one person to another. Always wash or use sanitizer after using the lavatory and before eating.
Use the twenty second rule: 20 seconds to wash and 20 seconds to dry.
If available use soap and running water. Vigorously rub soap onto all parts of the each hand for at least 20 seconds. Rub fingers between fingers and rub tips of the fingers against the palms of the opposing hand. Rinse thoroughly in the fresh running water.
Dry your hands. Repeated drying of hands on a single reused cloth towel is not recommended. It is preferable to use disposable paper towels or single use reusable towels and take care to dry all parts of the hand; rubbing for at least 20 seconds. Air towels usually require 45 seconds to dry hands completely.
If there is visual soiling of the hands full hand hygiene (washing and drying as above) should be performed. The use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, such as NO Germs from Kiwicare, are useful to decontaminate hands if there is no access to hand washing facilities. Hand sanitizers should be seen as an additional hand hygiene step. Hand sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective and will kill 99.9% of germs. If there is no visual soiling hand sanitizer can be used indefinitely.
For thorough sanitisation and hygiene of hands:
1. Remove jewellery and apply enough NO Germs to palm to keep hand surfaces moist for at least 20 seconds.
2. Rub palms together.
3. Rub between and around fingers.
4. Cover all surfaces of hands and fingers.
5. Rub thumbs.
6. Rub fingertips of each hand in opposite palm.
7. Continue rubbing until hands are dry.
8. Do not use NO Germs with water and do not dry on paper or cloth towels.
I now keep a pump bottle of NO Germs hand sanitizer on the shelf behind my desk. I can swivel around and use it each time I leave and return to my desk. NO Germs contains skin moisturizers and a pleasant fragrance so that I am happy to shake the hand of all those that come to visit me. I know that I am not going to pass on or contract any nasties in the process……… and my soft hands must impress.
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