Global Hand Washing Day


In 2008, The UN General Assembly had designated 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation. For that purpose, October 15, 2008 was considered the first-ever global handwashing day. The primary practice aim was mobilize people and transform handwashing from being just an abstract idea to an automatic behavioural practice followed in homes, schools and communities across the globe.

What is hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene or hand washing means cleansing hands of pathogens including bacteria or viruses and chemicals which could lead to health conditions.

Why wash hands?
The easiest way to spread infectious diseases is through hands.
Handwashing with soap or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help to prevent pneumonia and diarrhoea which together form a lethal combination and are responsible for majority of child deaths.
More hand washing can reduce the number of deaths due to acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.
Religiously follow hand hygiene in order not to reduce spread germs and infections.

Washing hands with warm or cold water?

Contrary to popular belief, washing hands with hot water does not remove germs better than cold water. In a report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a scientist pointed out that various temperatures at with subjects were asked to wash hands in had no effect on bacterial reduction. The use of lukewarm water instead offered more benefits.

Hand Drying

One of the most essential steps to maintain hand hygiene is drying of hands. There is a debate, however, on what form of hand drying is the most effective one. Research suggests that paper towels are much more hygienic than hand dryer which is used by many.

Key findings of a study conducted by University of Westminster, London are –

Bacteria count after drying hands with hand dryer increased on finger pads by an alarming 194% and on palms by 254%.
Bacteria count reduced to a 76% on finger pads and 77% on palms after drying with paper towel.
Further, the scientists carried out some more tests to explain the potential for cross contamination of washroom users and washroom environment. They found out that paper towels do not lead to spread of microorganisms.

Word of caution
Do not use medicated soaps unless prescribed by a doctor. Intended use can cause allergies because every skin type is different.
Rinse off the traces of soap from the skin.
Use a moisturizer if your hands are dry after washing.
Do not use extremely hot water as it might lead to burns.
Since you cannot carry a microscope to see the germs in hands, wash them even when your hands are not visibly dirty. So, wash your hands and eliminate the risk of cross contamination of germs to your healthy neighbours and kids around.

Spread the word and not germs!

Halle Berry

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