Romans gave us soap in 2800 B.C. and we either refuse to use it or still haven’t learnt how to use it. No, these ain’t attention grabbing lines!!! I’m a Clinical Microbiologist who’s just trying to do her job. Do you know 1 in 5 people don’t wash their hands and out of the other four, only one uses soap. Of the small tribe of soap users, only about 5% of people wash their hands for 15-seconds or more. And 15-20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and water is must if you want the soap to kill bugs.
What do the ‘non washers’ (read most of us) end up with? They end up carrying the faecal matter including its bacteria on our hands (does E. coli ring a bell?). Ewwww…. gross…. Yes, it is!!!!
When 80% of infections are transmitted by touch, hand washing should have been a religion. But that’s way off the actual situation. May be the simpler a thing is, the more difficult it is to accept its efficacy. Soap is a ‘do-it-yourself’ vaccine that rids us of the germs with five simple steps…… Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry.
- Rub your hands together well and scrub all surfaces: Lather up on both sides of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers, and around your nails. Wash for 20 seconds. (see pic 1)
- If we do not do it the right way, we end up missing crucial areas (see pic 2)
- Rinse well under warm running water and pat dry with a clean towel.
Here’s the video:
It does not matter if the water is hot or cold (warm is good but avoid blister inducing hot. It makes our hands dry and itchy).
It does not matter what soap you use. (the antibacterial kinds are popular but regular ones work just as well).
The 20 seconds matter and so does drying the hands. (for medical professionals such as doctors and nurses, it’s safer to increase the time to 30 seconds)
When to wash hands?
- After using the washroom (not just the public ones but your home’s as well…. Germs do not discriminate…so you shouldn’t either)
- After blowing your nose
- Before preparing and serving meals
- Before and after changing a diaper
- Before and after visiting a sick person
- After outdoor activities and handling pets
- When the hands are obviously dirty
If you are still reading it you’ll shrug and say what’s new there? But once you are done reading, take a small survey in your home, and see how many of the above hand washing opportunities you missed. You’ll be surprised at the results.
When to use a sanitizer?
Use when soap and water are not available. Ensure that the sanitizer has evaporated and that the hands are dry before you start another task. NEVER expect it to do its job as well if the hands are dirty or greasy.
Regular hand washing and some common hygiene sense can rescue us from the dark ages. So next time you see someone religiously scrubbing hands with soap and water encourage him/ her to ‘dhote jao… dhote jao’ rather than ridicule ‘tera sabun slow hai kya?’ And don’t forget to thank the Romans!!
Pic 1 (For Procedure)- Courtsey Slideshare
Pic 2 (For frequently missed areas)- Courtsey www.nursinglk.comFirst Published – https://www.momspresso.com/parenting/article/sabun-slow-hai-kya