How your hands could make you sick

Not keeping your hands free of germs and other impurities could result in illness and the temporary loss of activity.

Are you following the single most important activity in personal hygiene? We’re not referring to showering every day, cleansing and moisturising the skin and even ensuring good hair health – though these are important, too. We’re referring to the one thing you must do as the first and most vital step in ensuring that you do not fall sick often or pass on an illness to others.

We’re talking about washing hands.

It sounds like such a simple thing to do, but you would be surprised at how often we overlook it. Washing your hands at least four times a day keeps your hands clean and free of disease-causing bacteria and germs. Also, your hands are the main culprit when it comes to picking up germs from contaminated surfaces and also inadvertently passing them on to others.

And yet, people forget to wash their hands during the course of the day, or think that their hands do not need to be washed. Washing your hands after they get dirty or after you visit the restroom is a given, but it is also important to wash your hands prior to doing certain activities:

  • Handling raw food ingredients
  • Preparing formula for an infant
  • Tending to an ill person or a pet
  • Giving a child a bath or changing his diaper
  • Dressing a wound, etc.

Situations which call for washing your hands after an activity:

  • Handling raw meat and vegetables
  • Coming in contact with human or animal wastes/bodily fluids
  • Returning home from work
  • Changing a child’s diaper
  • After playing or exercising outdoors, etc.

Are all germs bad?

Most germs are harmless, but the few that are not can cause illnesses such as stomach bugs, cold, cough, fever and even skin infections. These illnesses can stop you from leading an active life till you get better – this results in a loss of working days as well. Disease-causing bacteria and germs must be eliminated at the earliest opportunity. You are likely to catch them in public spaces or after touching implements that everybody uses: staircase bannisters, office landlines, computer keyboards, elevator buttons, handrails in public transport and furniture upholstery are hotbeds of germs and viruses that can pass on from person to person.

What happens when you cannot wash your hands?

You may be in a place – an outdoor park or a business meeting in another office – where there is no immediate access to soap and water. Hand sanitizers are useful in such situations – just squeeze out a couple of drops on the palms of your hands and rub them together. The hand sanitizer effectively kills the germs and bacteria present on the skin. It also rids the hands of grease, dirt and dust, just the way a soap would.

There is no need to rinse your hands with water or clean them further with antibacterial wipes – a good hand sanitizer should kill up to 99.99% of germs on the hands within seconds of application.

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