Every time you touch something and then touch your skin, eyes, nose or mouth, you are at a risk of catching an infection. In fact, this is the most common way of catching a cold or flu. The Centres for Diseases Control & Prevention, Atlanta (USA) recommends frequent washing of hands.
Some critical times to wash hands:
• Before handling a baby and after changing diapers.
• Prior to eating or cooking food and after handling raw meat.
• Before handling/meeting a patient or tending a sore and after touching a wound or visiting a health facility.
• After using the toilet or touching anything dirty.
• Before wearing contact lenses.
• After sneezing, coughing or using a tissue.
• After helping someone with a runny nose
How to wash hands
• Wet your hands and apply enough soap.
• Rub palms together for at least 20 seconds.
• Rub between your fingers as well as up to the wrist.
• Rinse well with clean water.
• Dry with a clean towel immediately. Never leave hands wet for long, since it’s easier to attract dirt on wet surfaces.
• Clean nails too as they are a vital but ignored part of hand hygiene.
Antibacterial soaps are effective in killing bacteria, thereby preventing many a disease. The active ingredient in most is triclosan, an antibacterial agent. Use these with care as they could be a build up of bacterial resistance. Alcohol rubs can also be used when water is not available. A high percent of alcohol can kill germs effectively as the base of these are mostly isopropyl alcohol or ethanol.