Mind and Body: Handwashing critical to fighting illness

National Handwashing Awareness Week is recognized Dec. 2-8.

Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.

You can help yourself and others 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 eating food

— Before and after caring for someone who is sick

— Before and after treating a cut or wound

— After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

— After using the toilet

— After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

— After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste

— After touching garbage.

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs.

Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community — from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

First, wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations.

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.

You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60 percent alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations.

Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.

Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

Be cautious when using hand sanitizers around children. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple mouthfuls is swallowed.

Apply the gel to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).

Rub your hands together. Rub the gel over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

For more information on handwashing, visit CDC’s Handwashing website.

You can also call 1-800-CDC-INFO or contact CDC-INFO for answers to specific questions.

Hand washing is always important, but as Hepatitis A continues to be diagnosed across Kentucky, remember handwashing along with vaccination is an individual’s best defense against this illness.

Article info taken from www.cdc.gov. Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including Smoking Cessation, WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations, and home health care.  For more information, call 859-744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org.