Listen to your doctors when they say that you should always wash your hands throughout the day before and after certain activities, such as eating a meal and using the restroom. Your hands are the most active and “touchy” part of your body, meaning that they come in contact with the most germs on any given day. Germs can be on objects like handrails, door knobs, toys, computer equipment and other people’s hands.
How exactly should you wash your hands? A good way to start is with plain old soap and water. The easiest step is to wet your hands in a sink lukewarm water. Apply one or two pumps of soap onto your hands to make sure you have enough. When lathering, be sure to get all around your hands including thumbs, under fingernails, in between your fingers, and the backs of your hands all the way up to your wrists. Some people sing “Happy Birthday” in their heads to assure that they wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, which is the optimal time to scrub away the germs. Afterward, rinse your hands with warm water to remove all of the soap from your hands and dry your hands with a towel. Use that towel to turn off the faucet and, if needed, to grasp a doorknob or handle.
If you don’t have access to soap and water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol will do the trick. These products are great to carry on in your pocket or purse. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are very effective as the alcohol kills most bacteria/viruses on contact. These products are actually less drying to hands than soap and water washing.
No matter how clean you may think your hands may be, remember that they touch a lot of germ-laden surfaces throughout the day! Keeping your hands away from your nose and mouth is a great way to prevent germs from infecting your body. Also, sharing food should be kept to a minimum, as that is a prime way for germs to spread from one person to another.
Have you already come down with a cold or the flu? GBMC's primary care physicians are accepting new patients. Visit www.mygbmcdoctor.com or call 443-849-GBMC (4262) to find a physician who is right for you.