Hand Washing Procedure
Washing Your Hands
Hand washing is the single most important method of preventing the spread
of infectious diseases. By frequently washing your hands, you eliminate up
to 99.9 % of germs you may have picked up from contaminated surfaces.
Here is a video of someone washing their hands
(handwashing procedure video)
This report will examine the different
methods of hand washing suggested by health experts, as well as explore
danger areas, viral infections and alternatives to soap. This will be
accomplished through the use of the following sections:
1) How to wash your hands
2) Why wash your hands?
i) Norwalk Virus
ii) Avian Flu
iii) Food Contamination
3) When to wash your hands
4) Alcohol-based sanitizers
iii) Hand Wipes
5) Risks of over-washing hands
Most people wash their hands constantly, but few know the proper procedure
to ensure their hands are decontaminated. The following guidelines are
based off of information found on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC)
website, www.cdc.gov .
1) Wet your hands under warm, running water. Avoid contact with the faucet
after this point.
2) Lather the soap on your hands for at least ten to fifteen seconds and
then rub your hands together vigorously.
3) Wash your palms, in between your fingers, under your fingernails and
the back of your hand; focus on the ends of your fingers.
4) Rinse your hands thoroughly under the warm running water.
5) Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel from a receptacle.
6) Turn off the water using the towel to turn the nozzle. This will help
to avoid re-infection.
By following the above steps, decontamination is assured. The entire
process should take no longer than a minute and can be done in pretty much
Washing your hands is the most effective method of controlling infectious
diseases. This section will study the Norwalk virus, Avian Flu, and food
contaminates, all of which are negated by properly washing your hands.
The Norwalk Virus has been making headlines for years now, usually
associated with medical facilities or cruise ships. It is an intestinal
illness contracted by ingesting stool-contaminated food or water; raw
oysters are also thought to be a source. Surfaces become easily tainted
with the Norwalk virus, which in turn contaminate those who touch the
surfaces. The disease can then be contracted by rubbing an infected finger
near the eye or mouth.
The Norwalk Virus causes severe stomach cramps, profuse vomiting, diarhea,
and nausea. These will not usually become evident until 1 – 2 days after
exposure. Though hospitalization is usually not necessary, the
uncomfortable symptoms last from 2 – 3 days.
Humans are the only source of this virus, and it can not replicate outside
the human body. The best way to control the Norwalk virus is to wash your
hands after every visit to the toilet, before/after you handle uncooked
food, especially shellfish, and before you eat. This will ensure you do
not pass the virus along.
Though not yet a serious threat to humans, the H5N1 strain of avian
influenza is considered by experts the precursor to an epidemic. In 1997,
the first human case of avian flu was reported, and the number has grown
each year. Recent information suggests that for the first time, a human to
human case of avian flu contraction has occurred in China.
Bird flu, as it is otherwise know, is spread by contact with the
secretions or excrement of infected fowl. The contagion is easily passed
to domesticated poultry such as chickens and turkey; human workers pick up
the virus through contact with these birds.
Symptoms of the virus are traditionally flu-like: fever, sore throat,
coughing, muscle aches, pneumonia, eye infections etc.
What makes Avian Flu so feared by the medical community is the lack of
exposure the human body has had to the various subtypes of the virus. Our
bodies have no natural immunity to it, and are therefore at their most
vulnerable. If Avian Flu is able to easily spread among humans, as experts
predict, it could wreak havoc.
Because the virus is not airborne, proper hand washing techniques have
been shown to lower the risk of contracting Avian Flu. Wash your hands
after coming in contact with any fowl or surface where the fowl may have
Food poisoning is one of the most common forms of bacterial infection,
with case estimations reaching 76 million annually; many incidents go
unreported because the symptoms are not recognized as food poisoning.
Contamination is caused by raw meat, vegetables, fruit and poor sanitary
conditions. More than 200 known diseases can be transmitted through
contaminated food, including salmonella, rotavirus, and hepatitis A.
Cleanliness is the cure for food-borne infections. Food handlers should
wash their hands every time they work with a different food item, and
should avoid cross-contaminating surfaces. Restaurant regulations require
that sinks be made available in the near vicinity of where the food is
prepared and that antibacterial soap be used.
Care should be taken by the diner as well. Washing your hands before a
meal will rid them of any bacteria and viral agents. If you leave the
table, wash your hands before you come back, as you may have come in
contact with contaminated surfaces, such as walls, railings or handles.
It is common in most households to wash your hands before you eat, but
there are many, many other instances.
There are still people who do not wash their hands after going to the
bathroom. Feces-borne bacteria can infect every surface in the bathroom,
and will spread throughout the house by that individual who did not wash
If you work in an environment where you deal with money, make sure to wash
your hands at least once an hour. Money has been shown to be one of the
most contaminated articles in our possession. Avoid rubbing your eyes or
scratching your face until you have washed your hands. This same rule
applies if you work as a professional cleaner. Gloves will protect you
from most contagions, but wash your hands every time you take them off.
Etiquette dictates covering your mouth while you yawn, sneeze or cough.
Not only is this polite, it serves to limit the spread of germs. Every
time you cough or sneeze into your hands, wash them immediately. This will
help to avoid contaminating surfaces and other people.
Animals, domesticated or otherwise, carry germs that can be harmful to
humans. Try to wash your hands after coming into contact with any animal,
including family pets (you do not know what they have rolled in).
Hospitals and senior’s homes recommend you wash your hands as you enter
and leave. This is to prevent infection of the patients and for your own
protection. Most medical institutions provide hand sanitizers at various
stations throughout the facility. If this is not available, seek out the
Schools and daycares are breeding grounds for all types of bacteria. Wash
your hands frequently and make sure the children do as well.
Lastly, if you have come into contact with grass or dirt, wash your hands
as soon as possible. Dirt contains many bacteria that could be harmful to
humans, and grass is the favorite bathroom of the neighborhood animals.
There will be many instances where washing your hands is impossible due to
lack of water, soap or otherwise. In this case, alcohol-based sanitizers
come to the rescue. They are a special brand of sanitizer that doesn’t
require rinsing, and they claim to kill almost 100% of germs. They usually
come as a gel or a rub cloth.
Because they are alcohol-based, the residue evaporates off of your hands
after about 15 seconds, leaving them safe to touch your eyes and mouth.
This also makes them safe for use by children, but only under supervision.
Two of the more popular brands of alcohol-based sanitizers are Isogel and
hand sanitizer contains 66% ethyl alcohol and kills 99.99 % of common household
germs. It can be used anytime and in anyplace, without towels, and is
available in small bottles that fit anywhere.
medical hand disinfectant is a hospital-grade hand sanitizer containing 60% ethyl alcohol. It
is waterless and comes in portable bottles.
Hand wipes are manufactured by countless companies, but all serve the same
general purpose. They are a pre-moistened, pre-packaged cloth containing
at least 60% alcohol and some form of moisturizer. They are proven
effective against most types of bacteria and are perfect for picnics,
camping and other outdoor activities.
The downside to alcohol-based sanitizers is that they are only effective
when no visible dirt is present. They are not meant as a replacement for
soap and water, only a supplement when soap and water are not available.
As well, they will not remove allergenic food residues, such as peanuts or
People with open cuts will want to avoid alcohol-based hand sanitizers
because they may cause further irritation.
There have been also cases of dry skin resulting from the overuse of hand
sanitizers. If this occurs, use a hand lotion after disinfections.
Risks of over-washing hands
As with the overuse of hand sanitizers, dry skin can result from regularly
washing your hands. To avoid this, use a moisturizer after you finish
Antibacterial soaps are meant for use in restaurants and hospitals. Little
evidence exists showing that they are more effective for home use than
regular soap. Besides, most common household illnesses result from
viruses, which are immune to antibacterial agents. Antibacterial soap has
been linked to the rise of ‘superbugs,’ bacteria that have survived
counteragents and developed resistant genes, leaving them immune to common
Hand washing is the most important step in the protection against illness.
This report has outlined how to wash your hands properly, reasons for
washing your hands, alternatives to soap and water, and explained the
risks of over-washing. By following these guidelines, you can dramatically
raise your overall well-being, as well as lower the risk of disease
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