Hand Hygiene Myths
Adopting simple hand hygiene practices is an effective way to prevent infections. However, it's not enough to simply wash your hands with hygiene soap and water. There are a number of incorrect beliefs and practices that reduce the efficiency of hand washing.
Here's a list of hand hygiene myths you may have fallen for:
Your Handwashing Technique Doesn’t Matter
The next time you're standing at a sink to wash your hands, make sure you do more than just rub your palms together. Spread the lather over the back of your hands and in between your fingers. Also be sure to pay attention to your thumbs, and press your fingertips into your palms before you dry your hands.
Hand Sanitizer Is Better Than Soap
Neither is better than the other. Hand sanitizer is the preferred choice when you don’t have access to soap and water, such as when you are doing a grocery run at a supermarket or after you pay to fill up your car at a petrol station.
Drying Is Not Important
While some people don't mind letting their hands air dry after they wash them, that habit actually does more harm than good. Moisture makes the transmission of germs far easier, so you run the risk of picking up a lot of harmful pathogens when you touch surfaces with wet hands. Make sure you thoroughly dry your hands each time you wash them.
You Only Have to Wash Your Hands After Using the Bathroom or Before Preparing Food
We touch an innumerable number of surfaces per day, each with the potential to harbour illness-causing germs. This is why it’s important to wash or sanitise your hands as frequently as possible. You should also be washing your hands:
- After going out in public
- After touching a surface that is touched frequently by others (e.g. door handles, light switches, and trolleys)
- Before you touch your face
- Before and after you wear gloves.
Washing your hands with soap and water is still the best way to prevent the spread of germs. In instances where soap and water are not easily accessible, an alcohol-based sanitizer can be used, provided your hands are not visibly dirty or greasy. It's important to use the hand sanitizer properly, so refer to the instructions on the packaging to ensure optimum germ protection.
While you can't deny the presence of germs on almost every surface we touch, take comfort in the fact that a bar of soap and a bit of water are all you need to drastically reduce the chances of catching many illnesses. If you're practising proper hand hygiene, you have little to worry about.
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