Take care of your hands
Why should you wash your hands?
Hand washing is the most effective way to reduce the spread of germs.
Germs are so small that you can’t see them. Germs can cause diarrhea, colds and other serious illnesses.
If you wash your hands correctly, you can reduce the chances of spreading germs. Unwashed hands that have disease-causing germs on them can enter your body when you touch your mouth, eyes, nose or open wounds. It is important that everyone make hand washing a personal priority.
You don’t need any special cleansers - just soap, water and a little friction.
Sometimes water isn’t available. Waterless alcohol rinses or gels kill the germs on your hands, but they do not remove dirt. Cleansing wipes or towelettes can help to remove the dirt when water is not available.
Hand washing with soap and water is still the best measure against infections.
When should you wash your hands?
- Prepare or eat food
- Treat a cut or wound
- Tend to someone sick
- Insert or remove contacts
- Use the restroom
- Handle uncooked foods, especially raw meat, poultry, or fish
- Change a diaper
- Blow your nose, cough or sneeze
- Handle garbage
- Care for someone who is sick or very young.
- Treat a cut or wound
Proper hand washing procedure
- Find a towel that you will use to dry your hands. If possible, use a clean or disposable towel.
- Wet your hands with warm water.
- Put soap on your hands. Liquid soap is better because germs can live on a wet bar of soap if it is not dried on a rack.
- Rub hands together for at least 10 to 15 seconds, longer if you can see dirt. Wash between fingers, under fingernails, and on the backs of your hands.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly with warm water. If you do not remove all soap, it can cause you to itch.
- Use the towel to turn off faucet. If you touch the faucet, you may get germs back on your hands. If you use a blow dryer, touch the button with your elbow
How to take care of your hands
When you wash your hands often, your skin may get dry. This is especially true during cold months. It is important to keep your skin from getting dry because germs can attach more easily to the cracks in dry skin and then can pass through the skin and into your body.
Some ways to keep your hands from getting dry:
- Use soaps that contain emollients or moisturizers
- Use warm water when washing your hands because hot can cause dryness
- Use a soft towel to dry and pat dry instead of rubbing
- Use a moisturizer right after you dry your hands
- Wear gloves in the winter to protect your hands from chapping and apply a moisturizer before going out into the cold.
To repair your hands at night before going to bed:
- Wash hands
- Soak hands in warm water for 10-15 minutes
- Apply a moisturizer that contains glycerin or petrolatum
- Put on light cotton gloves
- Wait at least 3-4 hours before removing the gloves
Your hands should feel better within a week.