Handwashing Keeps You HealthyRead Time: 3 minutes
The simple act of handwashing can have tremendous rippling effects throughout the world. Handwashing prevents the spread of germs that can make people sick, especially patients with compromised immune systems. Harmful diseases can be spread by not washing hands with soap and water. Learning about the importance of handwashing can help individuals be more mindful of hand hygiene.
How hands get dirty
Even with the most stringent hygiene regimen, hands, and other parts of the body will come in contact with germs throughout the day. Feces, in particular, is a haven for germs like salmonella, norovirus, and E. coli, which cause diarrhea. Bacteria can also spread respiratory infections such as hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Germs in feces can get on a person’s hands when using the toilet or changing a diaper. Individuals can also come in contact with germs when handling raw meats that can contain trace elements of feces. For perspective, one gram of feces, or the weight of a paper clip, contains one trillion germs. Germs can also get on hands if a person comes in contact with an object that has been sneezed or coughed on.
Preventing disease for yourself and others
Germs that aren’t washed off immediately can spread from person to person and cause illness and infection. Health experts recommend people thoroughly wash hands with soap and water to prevent the spread of illness. Handwashing reduces the chance for germs to infect the body in many different ways. When preparing food, handwashing ensures no bacteria are transferred into food or drinks. Handwashing also keeps germs away from handrails, tabletops, doorknobs, and other areas with heavy hand traffic.
Dealing with antibiotic resistance
Doctors prescribe antibiotics to a range of medical conditions, including patients with diarrhea and respiratory infections. Handwashing plays a pivotal role in reducing the increasing antibiotic resistance all over the world. Overuse of antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of the medication. Handwashing can prevent 30% of diarrhea-related illnesses and about 20% of respiratory infection, and thereby, reduce the need for antibiotics. Lower demand for antibiotics means antibiotic resistance won’t be accelerating at a rapid pace.
Handwashing protects everyone
From young to old patients, everyone benefits from proper handwashing. Good hand hygiene has a trove of benefits ranging from fewer threats to the immune system and reduced absenteeism at school or work. Globally, the importance of handwashing is becoming a critical concern for everyday people’s well-being. To learn more about the importance of hand hygiene, speak with a healthcare provider.