It’s drummed into us from a young age – but why is hand washing so important? It may seem obvious but it’s interesting to find out more. Hand washing is important in preventing you from getting sick, as well as stopping the spread of diseases and illnesses to others. Not keeping your hands properly clean is the easiest way to spread germs, and even the cleanest of people will still easily collect germs on their hands.
Why hand washing is so important
When we don’t wash our hands, it opens up a variety of ways to spread germs, and possibly cause illness. We can spread germs through touching things, such as door handles, computer keyboards, and toys (though anything you touch, you can spread germs to), or we can spread germs through food and drink, which in some cases and environments can cause the germs to multiply. As well as this, we can easily spread germs to ourselves through touching our face and bodies, which gives easy access to the germs through our mouth, eyes and nose, allowing them to make us sick. The only way to prevent the spread of germs is to make sure you wash your hands well regularly.
As well as stopping germs from being spread and preventing illness, according to the centre for disease control and prevention, washing our hands can help stop growing resistance to antibiotics. If we wash our hands, it can prevent about 30% of diarrhoea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections, such as colds. If less people are getting sick, that means that less antibiotics are being prescribed for these illnesses, meaning that less resistance is built up. As well as this, research suggests that some germs are already resistant to antibiotics, and are difficult to treat, and so stopping the spread of these germs through handwashing prevents these illnesses from occurring.
To make sure that you’re washing your hands properly, know that you should be washing your hands thoroughly at these times;
- after going to the toilet, or after changing a nappy
- before, during and after cooking and preparing food
- after handling raw food
- before you eat
- after blowing your nose/using a tissue
- before and after you assist or look after someone who is sick
- after smoking
- after handling rubbish or waste
- after working or playing outside/in the dirt
- after coming into contact with animals
So there you have it – be mindful and make hand washing a priority for your own health, and the well being of others.