Not washing one’s hands is the easiest way to spread germs and disease. We carry millions of germs on our hands, most are harmless, but some can cause disease. Diseases that one may spread if not washing their hands could include Salmonella, Norovirus and Adenovirus. When one uses the toilet, changes a diaper, handles animals or handles raw meats (that may have traces of animal faeces on them), they are exposing themselves and others if they don’t wash (scrub in some instances) their hands thoroughly. If the hands are not washed thoroughly, germs can spread within the person themselves (for example, if they touch their eyes, mouth etc), and from object to object to others or directly to others, for example, when shaking hands. Germs from unwashed hands can get into food and drink which are then consumed by people. Washing hands whenever there is a risk of infection spread will help stop gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin and eye conditions.
When should one wash their hands?
- When they are visibly soiled
- Before, during and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- After using the lavatory
- Before and after caring for a sick person
- After touching an animal or animal waste products
- After sneezing, coughing
- After smoking
- After shaking another person’s hand (if you can wash or at least sanitize with hand cleanser)
- After emptying the garbage
- Before and after attending to an injury or wound
- It is vital that all children are made aware of washing their hands and are taught to do so
How to wash one’s hands properly
- Wet hands with warm water
- Wash well with liquid soap for 15 – 20 seconds
- Don’t forget the thumbs, wrists, fingertips and an ingrained areas
- Don’t forget to use a mild scrubbing brush for under the finger nails
- If no soap is available a hand sanitizer can be used, however soap and water is the best way
- Always dry with a very clean (single use towel) or disposable towel
- Remove any rings as you wash hands as they can contain germs
- At home each member should have their own hand towel, which should be washed very frequently
- Use towel to turn off tap
Diseases one can catch when not washing ones hands or not washing them properly
- Shigellosis – a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and fever. This is caused by injesting food contaminated by infected people who have not adequately washed their hands after using the bathroom
- Giardiasis – a parasitic illness of the intestine. It is spread from hand-to-faecal contact or untreated water sources.
- Hepatitis A – a highly contagious liver infection. Easily spread when someone contaminated with the virus does not use proper hand washing techniques after using the bathroom.
- Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease – caused by a virus. It spreads by ingesting food or drink contaminated with faecal content.
- The common cold – easily caught!
- Other illnesses – it is not possible to make an exhaustive list of what one can definitely catch, there are a lot of things one can catch simply by not washing one’s hands