How often do you wash your hands?
As we approach Global Handwashing Day on Oct. 15, it’s a good question to ask. Here’s a little exercise that might make you reconsider your answer.
Think about how many different things you touch during the day: Pens, handrails, doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, office equipment, ATM keypads, money, and just about every surface in a public restroom or on public transportation.
How often do others wash?
Now think about how many other people have touched them, too. Add to that a recent report stating that 56 percent of Americans say they frequently or occasionally see their coworkers leave the bathroom without washing their hands.
And finally, consider the fact that some bacteria or viruses can live on a surface anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. And according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), people touch their eyes, nose and mouth about 25 times per hour without even realizing it – all of which are a gateway for germs to enter your body.
There’s a reason the CDC refers to handwashing as a do-it-yourself vaccine: It’s one of the biggest and easiest things you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick. Some researchers estimate that if everyone washed their hands regularly, a million deaths a year could be prevented.
Experts have a few suggestions for when handwashing is essential: food preparation, eating, caring for someone who is sick or when you are sick, changing diapers, using the bathroom, or interacting with animals, animal food or animal waste.
The CDC recommends five simple steps for the most effective handwashing:
- Wet: Run your hands under clean water, turn off the tap and apply soap.
- Lather: Rub your hands together with soap to form a lather, making sure to scrub all areas including the backs of your hands, under your nails and between your fingers.
- Scrub: Continue scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. (TIP: Hum the “Happy Birthday” in your head twice to ensure you’re hitting the 20 second mark!)
- Rinse: Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry: Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.
Protect your hands
If other soaps are drying out your hands, consider keeping G&H Nourish+™ Hand Cream in your purse, desk or gym bag. It helps rebuild skin’s moisture barrier, relieving and soothing it while leaving it feeling moisturized and looking healthy. Plus, it absorbs quickly, so hands don’t feel greasy.
So, back to our original question: How often do you wash your hands?