Hand washing is the number one thing that everyone can do to help reduce the transmission of disease. This could be from person to person, surface to person, or animal to person, and vice versa. Some of the most common bugs are easily spread through poor hand hygiene such as the common cold, gastroenteritis and Hepatitis A.
There are several different types of products available on the market to aid in hand hygiene. Antibacterial hand wash that contains triclosan or chlorhexidine, but these are not necessary because they can do more harm than good. Repeated use of these types of products can break down your skin barrier, leading to skin irritations. Instead, choose a soap free liquid wash. The mechanical action of washing is enough cleanse soiled hands of dirt and bacteria.
Other ingredients can cause irritation to the hands too, such as sodium lauryl sulphate, parabens, mineral oils or fragrances. Even ‘natural’ fragrances can cause irritation, so always patch test a new product before using it. Over washing can be another cause of irritation from hand washing, so only wash your hands when you need to.
When should I wash my hands?
The World Health Organisation identifies that hand washing is the single most important step we can take to reduce the spread of germs and disease. However, over washing can cause harm to our hands. You should wash your hands:
- Before and after preparing a meal
- Before eating a meal
- Before and after touching an orifice or face
- After using the toilet
- After sneezing, coughing or whipping your nose
- After handling money or contact with common surfaces
- Before and after contact with animals
- When your hands are visibly soiled
How do I wash my hands properly?
Watch the video below to learn more about hand washing and how to wash your hands properly.