World Hand Hygiene Day takes place on May 5th, 2022. It is a day dedicated to advocating for handwashing with soap and water as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. This day is declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others whether you are at home, at work, traveling, or out in the community.
Why does handwashing prevent illness?
- People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth and make us sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, tabletops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
- Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Key Times to Wash Hands
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before and after eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
Steps to washing your hands properly
- Wet your hands with clean — preferably running — water.
- Apply enough soap to cover all surfaces of your hands and wrists.
- Lather and rub your hands together briskly and thoroughly. Make sure to scrub all surfaces of your hands, fingertips, fingernails, and wrists.
- Scrub your hands and wrists for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands and wrists under clean — preferably running — water.
- Dry your hands and wrists with a clean towel, or let them air-dry.
- Use a towel to turn off the faucet.
Handwashing helps battle the rise in antibiotic resistance. Preventing sickness reduces the number of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Antibiotic resistance happens when germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. If antibiotics lose their effectiveness, then we lose the ability to treat infections and control these public threats.
There are lots of contaminants out there you come in contact with. Using hand sanitizer helps, but doesn’t replace washing with soap and water. There are important differences between washing hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizer. Soap and water work to remove all types of germs from hands, while sanitizer acts by killing certain germs on the skin. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs in many situations, they should be used in the right situations. Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs. Hand sanitizers also may not remove harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and heavy metals like lead from the skin.