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More important than ever
to keep your hands clean

January 2017

woman washing hands in a bathroom

It was a big thing when we were little…always wash your hands after visiting the loo or before a meal and so on. Today the advice is generally the same but despite this, infection levels are now very high and much of the problems originate from infections passed through our hands.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued advice on washing hands in an attempt to bring down infection levels. The high levels are of infections are leading to very serious problems in antibiotic resistance, so anything that helps bring down infection and the need for antibiotics is very important indeed.

The latest advice from NICE say that our old ways of filling a basin with hot water and then having a good scrub with soap is not necessarily the best thing to do.

Instead they are advising the use of liquid soap and also washing your hands under running water that is only moderately hot, not very hot.

Liquid handwash in bottles is thought to be safer because infections can remain on a bar of soap and then spread to the next washer.  It seems there is no need to invest in more expensive antibacterial handwashes though. The US Food and Drug Administration have confirmed British reports that there isn’t enough evidence to show these really are any better at preventing illness than washing in normal handwash and water. In fact, some say there is concern about some of the chemicals used in anti-bacterial handwashes.

The other aspect is running water. While this might use a little more water than a basin with some water in the bottom, it will ensure any bacteria is washed clear away and not just swilled around to land back on your skin again.

Finally NICE has issued instructions on how to wash our hands properly…

  • Hands should be run under tepid running water for a little while to thoroughly wet and rinse them before applying soap.
  • Apply liquid soap to every surface, and then rub the hands together vigorously for a minimum of 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Pay particular attention to the tips of the fingers, the thumbs and the areas between the fingers.
  • Ensure you properly wash the back of your hands and fingers as well as the palms.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly in clean water.

Other areas of advice include using clean and regularly laundered towels...dirty hand towels can be another source of infection.

In some ways most of us probably know this, but it seems not enough of us are doing it properly. Taking the time to wash our hands thoroughly including when we have touched a bin or other surface which has a likelihood of harbouring germs and bacteria is more important than ever.

Anything that can be done to ensure antibiotics remain affective is important to every one of us.

 

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