Germs: they’re everywhere, often hidden in places you’d least expect. The discovery of germs and the recognition that proper handwashing significantly decreases the spread of germs is one of the most important medical breakthroughs in history. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to wash your hands for maximum germ-killing effectiveness. Here are the tips and tricks you need—and a few hygiene myth busters—to help keep your family safe and healthy.
Happy washing to you.
Here's how the CDC says we should wash our hands.
Wet hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap (to
save water) and apply soap.
- Myth buster: Water doesn't have to be hot or even warm. Studies show that cold water is just as effective, is less irritating to hands and is more economical.
- Myth buster: For those not in the healthcare profession, studies show that regular soap works just as well as antibacterial soap. Further, long-term use of products containing antibacterial ingredients, such as triclosan, may create antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
- Lather hands by rubbing them together with soap. Be sure to lather the backs of hands, between fingers and under nails. This creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease and microbes from skin.
- Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. Singing the "Happy Birthday" song twice will do the trick.
Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
- Myth buster: Using a paper towel to turn the faucet on or off is simply a waste of paper towels and water. There is very little evidence to suggest significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet and no studies showing that using a paper towel improves health.
- Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them. While hand-drying study results conflict, there's one thing they all agree on: Germs prefer moist environments and are passed more easily to and from wet hands.
If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and rub over all surfaces of hands and fingers until dry.
Coughs and sneezes spread germs and diseases.
Don't germ up your clean hands by coughing or sneezing on them. Current etiquette for these disease-spreading actions states that you should:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
- Throw the used tissue in the trash.
- If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Wash your hands (and other coughed or sneezed on parts).
Study your snot.
Besides passing germs, nasal mucus can also help you determine if you have an infection that may require medical treatment. It's all about the color — from clear to black with increasingly disgusting shades in between. While your doctor won't use snot color as a primary diagnostic tool, it is one factor to be considered so definitely mention the latest hue with the rest of your symptoms.
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Get a flu shot.
Getting your annual flu shot is your best defense against the flu. The whole family can get one at the closest CareNow, with no appointment necessary. The CDC recommends an annual influenza vaccination for everyone ages 6 months and older. Prepare your kids for a flu shot with these handy tips.
We hope you and your kids escape the attack of the germs this school year, but if the flu goes askew, look to one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.
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