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The first week of December is National Handwashing Awareness Week, a reminder that washing your hands is an important safeguard for public health.
If you work in a medical practice or a restaurant, or any other occupation where cleanliness is crucial to protecting the people you work with, you're probably more than familiar with the necessity of hand washing. But no matter what profession you're in, your day is full of objects likely to carry germs, from money and cell phones to computer keyboards and shopping carts. Washing your hands regularly and properly is the most effective way of reducing the risk of infection from the bacteria present throughout your day.
Reading studies about the prevalence of bacteria on hands and common items can be fuel for paranoia. But we're not here to scare you straight: Not all bacteria is harmful, and even the vast majority of harmful bacteria is too weak to sicken someone with a healthy immune system.
That being said, it helps to remember that not everyone has a healthy immune system. Children are still building theirs. People with chronic diseases may have a compromised system, especially those with HIV or Hepatitis. Elderly adults may also have a weakened immune system. Even if you personally might not be sidelined for long by a bout of food poisoning or the flu, these illnesses might be devastating to someone more vulnerable. Hand washing is not just an act of personal health, but one of public health.
Hand washing seems like a small act, but the diseases it can prevent are numerous and can be harmful even to someone with a strong immune system. These illnesses are incredibly contagious, and can include:
Occasions where hand washing is necessary can sometimes seem obvious, but these occasions can become just as habitual and easy to neglect as hand washing itself. How often do we eat meals without washing up beforehand or cough into our hands without washing them afterwards? Being mindful of these moments and taking the time to wash up is a great way to reduce the spread of illness and to keep ourselves healthy.
For a daily act, hand washing often seems to be inadequately practiced and understood. Studies by health organizations have regularly confirmed that people wash their hands improperly, most often for too little time or with too little attention to all the parts of our hands.
The most effective hand washing method is:
It's particularly important to teach children this method. Getting into the habit of proper hand washing early helps to create a good habit that will help children stay healthy, particularly while young and prone to sickness.
Beyond the basic washing method, here are some facts to keep in mind:
When soap and water aren't readily available, the best option to clean your hands is hand sanitizer. And when you want a quality hand sanitizer, choose Mountain Ice Advanced Hand Sanitizer! Our hand sanitizer is made with a 72% ethyl alcohol formulation to protect against the common viruses and bacteria that live on surfaces, and its unique formula has also been designed to address common complaints with other hand sanitizers. Enriched with Tea Tree Oil, Vitamin E, and Aloe Vera, it protects the skin barrier while retaining moisture, preventing your skin from drying out. It also has a refreshing spearmint scent that’s more pleasant than the strong alcohol odor of many other sanitizers.