Published on May 04, 2017

Essentia Health Promotes Hand Hygiene

It may seem like a simple concept, but washing your hands really is one of the best ways to stay healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control(CDC), handwashing education reduces the number of diarrhea cases by a third, and the number of colds and other respiratory illnesses by 20 percent. May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day and Essentia Health is using this time to spread the word about not spreading germs.

"Good hand hygiene is really being aware that we can transmit infectious germs on our hands and that we carry them around with us," says Dr. Kevin Stephan, an infectious disease specialist at Essentia Health. "Hand hygiene provides a means to get those germs off your hands. There are several ways to do that, including an alcohol-based handwashing rub or old-fashioned soap and water. The key is to do it properly and to do it at the proper times."

You should always wash your hands before, during, and after preparing and eating food. If you care for someone who is sick or are treating a wound, wash your hands first. After changing diapers, using the bathroom or blowing your nose, it' time to lather up or sanitize. And it is good hygiene to wash your hands after petting an animal, cleaning up animal waste, or handling pet food. Don't forget to sanitize after touching or taking out your garbage as well.

Effective handwashing involves five simple and effective steps:

  1. Wet
  2. Lather
  3. Scrub
  4. Rinse
  5. Dry

Dr. Stephan adds many places people commonly miss include their thumbs, the webs between their fingers, nail beds and around jewelry.

Please encourage your family to use good hand hygiene habits. Consider these tips:

  • Put a nail brush next to your sink
  • Remind yourself and others to wash carefully around nails and between the fingers
  • Show children how to properly wash their hands and remind them to wash after going to the bathroom, before eating and after playing with pets
  • Use an antibiotic wipe on shared surfaces of your home regularly, including your cell phone, computer mouse, and television remote

The CDC also has some great resources and science to back up healthy hand hygiene at this link: www.cdc.gov/handwashing