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June 2010 | 0 Comments | Print

Practicing good hand hygiene

Everyone has germs. Our bodies are covered with germs that help us stay healthy. However, in addition to the germs that are usually present on our skin, we also pick up others from person-to-person contact or objects in the environment.

Germs are most easily spread through hand contact. Persons with artificial fingernails are more likely to have germs under and around their nails than those who do not wear them. Hand hygiene is the newest term to describe washing or decontaminating the hands and is the single most important step in preventing the spread of infection.

Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
  • Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Twenty seconds is about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Rinse hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

Alcohol hand rub is also a good method of hand hygiene. Alcohol-based handrubs are now the preferred method for hand hygiene for healthcare workers. These alcohol handrubs kill germs better and faster than the traditional hand wash at a sink with soap and running water. Alcohol handrubs containing emollients also cause less skin irritation and dryness than the traditional soap and water hand wash.

Learn more about how you can prevent the spread of infectious disease at

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