Colds, viruses, and flu abound during this time of year. Keeping hands clean may be one of the most important things you and your child can do for disease prevention, according to Xiaoyan Song, PhD, MBBS, MSc
, who works in the Division of Infectious Disease
at Children’s National Health System.
Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Song said washing hands
regularly is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness and infection.
“It is estimated that washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50 percent,” according to the CDC website
. “A large percentage of foodborne disease outbreaks are spread by contaminated hands. Appropriate hand washing practices can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and other infections.”
To help head off avoidable illnesses, Song recommends you and your children wash your hands:
- After using the bathroom
- After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
- After changing a child’s diaper or cleaning a child who has used the bathroom
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after touching someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After working and playing with your hands
“Use soap and warm water and not just water to wash and rinse your hands,” Song said, adding that most commercial brands have enough detergents in them to kill germs.
In terms of how long, the longer the better when it comes to washing.
“Cover your palms with soap and water, rub your hands together and scrub,” Song said. “It can take 15 to 30 seconds to scrub.” To help a child remember to scrub for awhile encourage them to hum “Happy Birthday” twice
or the “ABC” song
Song said the right way to is to make a lather and scrub, making sure children scrub the back of their hands, between fingers and under their nails.
“When in doubt, wash your hands. You should wash your hands often,” Song said.
Watch this video from the CDC on how it is best to wash your hands with soap and clean running water for about 20 seconds.