Global Handwashing Day is observed every year on October 15 with an aim to motivate and lay emphasis on the importance of washing hands with soap. The theme for the year 2020 is ‘Hand Hygiene For All’ urging people across the world to scaleup frequent washing of hands with soap and water and ensure universal access to handwashing products for a healthy life. The ultimate key factor, of this global campaign that was started in 2008 by the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP) is the prevention of contagious infections and diseases and Global Handwashing Day was later appointed by UN General Assembly.
Though a decade old, this campaign seems to have garnered more popularity and worldwide recognition this year, owing to the current pandemic situation. The outbreak of COVID-19, has changed many of our regular habits – from shaking hands to greeting people with namaste, to frequent washing of hands soon after coming home, before and after touching home delivered items or even while picking up groceries, vegetables and fruits.
This global cleanliness campaign, which is observed worldwide focusses mainly on three factors:
- Foster and support a general culture of handwashing with soap in all societies
- Shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing in each country
- Raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap
This campaign in fact serves as a reminder that frequent handwashing with soap and water is the most affordable and an effective way of restricting the contagious diseases that helps us from getting sick and prevents spreading germs to others. However, there are still many FAQs with regards to hand hygiene, on how it is to be done, how frequent etc and here are your answers.
Why Should We Wash Hands Frequently?
Our palms are the carriers of tons of bacteria that cannot be spotted with a naked eye. These micro-organisms are categorized into two types – Resident Micro Organisms and Transient Micro Organisms. While resident micro-organisms are embedded in the epidermis and may not cause instant infections, transient micro-organisms are usually a result of contamination like touching dirty surface, meeting people with infections etc.
Though these transient micro-organisms survive only for a limited period of time, they can cause various bacterial infections including E.coli, Salmonella, MRSA and rotaviruses. These infections and disease-causing bacteria can be easily eliminated by washing the hands thoroughly with soaps that have germ-fighting properties and water.
What Are The Different Levels Of Hand Hygiene?
Hand hygiene is broadly segregated into three levels, depending on the task that was being performed.
Social Hand Hygiene:
This regular hand hygiene is for removing dirt, transient micro-organisms and for maintaining visibly cleaner palms.
Antiseptic Hand Hygiene:
Disinfecting palms with antiseptic solution is practiced while attending patients in ICU, isolation, handling intravenous equipment, wounds etc for eliminating transient micro-organisms
Surgical Hand Hygiene:
Medical experts practice surgical hand hygiene for the total reduction of transient micro-organisms while conducting invasive procedures on patients. The doctors should also ensure removing wrist watches, rings and keep nails shorter as a part of surgical hand hygiene.
What Are Hand Washing Techniques?
The following is the widely accepted methodology while washing hands and hugely recommended by doctors.
Wet palms completely under running water
Pour soap, handwash or antiseptic liquid into the palms
Rub it around the palms, between the fingers, right palm over left, left palm over right for about 10 to 15 seconds without adding water
Rinse thoroughly under running water till all the soap washes away
Dry hands with a clean towel or disposable dry tissue paper. Ensure proper drying of the palms as bacteria tend to grow faster on wet surfaces
Should I Use Soap, Handwash Liquid With Alcohol?
Handwash or soap with at least 60% alcohol works effectively in combating various bacteria. It can in fact eliminate bacteria that can be resistant to antibiotics. Frequent handwashing with alcohol-based hand rubs can fight against tuberculosis, common cold, flu viruses. Research suggests that it can also clear deadly coronavirus from the palms.
Can Frequent Handwashing Harm The Skin?
Well, cleaning hands regularly can strip away skin’s moisture making it dry and dull. Always use good quality soap and dry completely. Liquid soap is recommended and use it from the dispenser. You can also use natural emollients like coconut oil, natural aloe vera gel to restore skin health.