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Affinity Health | How Washing Your Hands Keeps You Healthy

In honour of Handwashing Awareness Week, Affinity Health encourages all hands on deck to fight against COVID-19 by washing hands regularly.

 

The Power of Washing Your Hands

According to the World Health Organization, hand washing is a primary intervention in the fight against the spread of the Coronavirus. It is also a key focus in the Integrated Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea.

 

Hand hygiene has been recognised as an effective measure to prevent the spread of infectious disease since the days of Florence Nightingale. In 1860, Nightingale recommended that nurses wash their hands regularly throughout the day, exhibiting an early understanding of the value of this simple procedure.

 

Handwashing with soap (and other types of hand hygiene) has gained popularity in recent years as a cost-effective, necessary tool for staying healthy. Now that its efficacy has been shown, the main focus is on making handwashing universal.

 

Today, public health officials have advocated washing your hands, along with other measures like social distancing and mask-wearing, since the commencement of COVID-19.

 

There has been a lot of attention paid to how hands can behave as an intermediary in spreading illness. Science has taught us never to underestimate the power of germs. Still, the reality is that these tiny invaders can creep into even the most sanitary of homes, schools, and work environments.

 

There are between 2 and 10 million bacteria on your fingertips at any given time. Even worse, they can survive for up to three hours on your hands. Gross, isn’t it? Don’t worry; washing your hands can get rid of most germs!

How Can Germs Reach Your Hands?

Germs are all around us and unless we’re going to live in a bubble, there is no way to completely avoid coming in contact with them.

 

A new confirmed COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, detected in South Africa. It’s more important now than ever for everyone to start doing their part. Prevent the spread of infection by washing their hands and limiting the spread of germs.

Here are just a few ways germs can get onto your hands:

  • Not washing your hands after going to the toilet. This is a major spread of diseases. According to research, less than 75% of women and less than 50% of men wash their hands after using the restroom. One trillion germs can be found in a single gram of human faeces, which is about the size of a paper clip.
  • Not washing your hands after caring for another sick person or coming into contact with a sick person.
  • Touching unclean items or surfaces, such as:
  • Money
  • Computer keyboards
  • Phones
  • Remote controls
  • Light switches
  • Doorknobs
  • Cupboard handles
  • Toilet pans
  • Countertops
  • Handrails
  • Appliances
  • Toys
  • Not washing your hands after touching animals, changing a dirty nappy, or blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Not washing your hands before preparing food or after touching certain foods such as raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Not washing food utensils properly. Microbes can be transferred from one food to another by using the same knife, cutting board or other utensil and land up on your hands.

Handwashing with soap and water decreases the bacterial count on your hands by up to 83 percent! According to research, handwashing has also been shown to prevent about 30 percent of diarrhoea-related illnesses and 20 percent of respiratory infections.

How to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

To be effective against germs, it’s important that you wash your hands frequently and properly.

 

Always follow these five steps:
  1. Wet your hands with warm or cold running water. Turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together with the soap to lather them. Pay special attention to the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Wash for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean running water.
  5. Dry your hands properly.

Did you know that damp hands are 1,000 times more likely than dry hands to transfer bacteria, although only 20% of individuals dry their hands after washing them? On the other hand, reusable cloth towels have millions of bacteria in their fibre, so opt to use disposable paper towels instead as they are the cleanest way to dry your hands.

 

Use Hand Sanitiser When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol can be used. There are so many different types of hand sanitisers on the market, from wipes to gel form. Best of all, they’re a convenient on-the-go option that can be used anywhere, anytime.

 

Read More: Keep Your Hands Happy and Germ-free

Life is Better With Clean Hands

Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health, encourages adults to make handwashing part of their everyday life and encourages parents to wash their hands to set a good example for their kids.

 

“Washing your hands with regular soap and running water is still one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Handwashing can not only help protect you from COVID-19 but other respiratory infections, such as pneumonia (the number one cause of childhood death) and gastric infections that cause diarrhoea. Make it a point to wash your hands several times a day, and encourage your loved ones to do the same,” concludes Murray.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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