How Long Should I Wash My Hands?

As the cold and flu season quickly approaches, we start focusing more on how often we wash our hands and how quickly germs can spread without washing our hands. Many diseases can be spread from hand to hand such as influenza, the common cold, gastroenteritis and many other infectious diseases.

Protecting yourself from these diseases is easy as properly washing you hands in the following situations, according to the CDC:

Before:

  • Preparing food
  • Eating food
  • Touching someone who is sick
  • Treating a cut or wound

After:

  • Preparing food
  • Using the restroom
  • Changing a diaper or helping a child in the restroom
  • Touching someone who is sick
  • Blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing
  • Touching an animal or animal waste
  • Handling garbage
  • Treating a cut or wound

Always remember when washing your hands to use clean running water and to scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds. Water can be cold or warm and you can use any kind of soap (with or without antibacterial agents).

If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Apply to palm of hand and rub onto all surfaces of hands until dry. Remember that hand sanitizers cannot kill all infectious organisms, so they should not be used to replace hand washing entirely.

Call your local pharmacist for more information about protecting yourself from diseases with proper hand washing.

Article by:
Rachel Walbaum
DrakeUniversity
PharmD Candidate 2012

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