Good hygiene is critical to prevent diseases

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

You wash your hands, but did you do it right?

It sounds simple enough, but hand-washing the right way is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of colds, flu and staph infections, which have been getting more press recently.

“It’s one of the first lines of defense against a lot of illnesses—the common cold, flu, diarrhea—especially important in daycares and places with so many people,” said Dr. Jennifer Hussli of the Mercy Mall Clinic.

Here’s the best way, Hussli said, to wash your hands:

-- Use warm water—not too hot or cold.

-- Use soap, but it doesn’t have to be antibacterial. That’s a common misconception, Hussli said.

-- “You want to lather up, really make sure you’re scrubbing,” Hussli said. “The action of scrubbing and the soap does the cleaning.”

-- Clean between your fingers and nails: “That’s where bacterial likes to hang out,” she said.

-- Wash all the way up to your wrists.

-- Wash for at least 20 seconds. While most people don’t count to 20, one way to teach kids is to have them sing or hum in their head the tunes of “Happy Birthday” twice or “Yankee Doodle” once.

-- Rinse well with a clean towel. The best way is with a throw-away paper towel or hand dryer instead of a shared bathroom towel, Hussli said.

-- If you can’t get to a sink, using an antibacterial gel or alcohol-based hand sanitizer is fine, she said, but still rub vigorously until dry.

-- Make it fun for kids. Visit www.henrythehand.com for ideas to teach kids on how to correctly wash hands.

-- In a public restroom, use toilet paper or paper towel to flush and open the door to leave. While you just washed your hands, many people don’t and you would be infected again by opening the door.

When should you wash your hands?

-- Before eating or cooking

-- After using the bathroom

-- After touching animals or family pets

-- After blowing your nose or coughing into your hand

-- After changing a diaper

-- After being outside playing, gardening, walking a dog, etc.

Last updated: 9:15 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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