Advice from Milford Regional: Hand-Washing Is Best Defense Against Infection
There are five easy steps to staying healthy: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry – the simple act of washing your hands.
“Hand-washing is the least sophisticated but most important thing you can do to minimize the risk of getting and spreading infections,” says Kimberly Knox, infection control coordinator at Milford Regional Medical Center.
With an estimated 80 percent of communicable diseases transferred by your hands, Milford Regional’s Infection Prevention and Control Department is educating staff and the public on the importance of the age-old habit of hand-washing to maintaining good health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, hand-washing reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea – especially people with weakened immune systems, and reduces respiratory illnesses, such as colds. In addition, reducing the number of infections spread by dirty hands can help prevent the overuse of antibiotics— which is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world.
It is most important to wash your hands before and after eating, after handling high-touch surface areas such as gas pumps and shopping carts, after you cough or sneeze, after using the bathroom, before and after treating a cut or wound, as well as before and after visiting someone who is sick.
The most effective way to wash your hands is lathering with soap and water, and scrubbing for 15-25 seconds (equal to singing two rounds of Happy Birthday or Yankee Doodle Dandy); or using hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol and working it into your hands until they are dry. Regardless of which cleansing agent you use, make sure to focus on all surfaces of your hands – fingertips, around the fingernails, between your fingers, the tops of yours hands and your wrists.
To stay healthy on-the-go, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse or vehicle.
“Make hand washing a habit, and encourage people around you to wash their hands,” says Bonnie Burke, infection prevention nurse at Milford Regional.
For helpful hand-washing tips, go to https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing.