Why washing hands is so important
MANILA, Philippines - The impact that coronavirus has on our lives is serious, to say the least. Memos and protocols are coming out and changing left and right. Luzon is in the midst of an enhanced community quarantine.
There’s so much information from international and local sources alike that it’s hard to keep up.
In this time of information overload, it’s important to go back to the basics. Why are we being quarantined? And why is washing hands so important?
COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus disease, is a respiratory illness that spreads quickly and seemingly invisibly – but maybe not as much as we think. The illness spreads through respiratory droplets, which is why social distancing is emphasized in different strategies against COVID-19.
These respiratory droplets are basically bodily fluids produced by breathing, talking, sneezing, coughing, and even singing. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that these droplets can travel one meter from its infected source and then settle on surfaces. The virus’s lifespan is still being studied.
This is the reason for the government’s emphasis on social distancing, mask-wearing, and mass sanitizing.
Of all these, handwashing remains our first line of defense against the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Think of it as the cheapest and most accessible form of health care there is.
This is because of the simple logic that our hands touch other surfaces carrying numerous pathogens, and then touch our skin. The easiest way to avoid being a carrier of these pathogens is to interrupt their transfer to our bodies.
With that said, handwashing, as emphasized again and again in numerous infographics, TikTok videos, memes, and Instagram challenges, should not take less than 20 seconds or the chorus of your favorite song.
The #20SecondChallenge encourages you to wash your hands the right way.
According to Harvard Health, adding 15 seconds to your regular 5-second wash will reduce bacterial count on your hands from 90% to 99%. But duration isn’t the only important factor in proper handwashing.
Failing to properly wash the nooks and crannies of your hands results in ineffective hand hygiene, which means that washing your hands does not at all affect the rate of multiple drug-resistant organisms (MDROs).
Below are the vital steps to proper hand hygiene:
The first step to washing your hands is to use clean running water and a trusted antibacterial soap like Safeguard, with ingredients focused on keeping pathogens at an absolute minimum. Lather your hands and rub your palms.
Don’t forget the back of your hands. Rub thoroughly enough that you can see your soap on the entire surface.
While most people nowadays do focus on rubbing the in-betweens of their fingers, don’t forget that you not only need to do this palm-to-palm, but also palm-over-backside on both hands.
Underneath your fingernails is probably one of the most important spots of all. Residue of all kinds can get stuck, especially when your nails are at that not-short-not-long phase, so make sure to get rid of everything stuck in there.
After washing your thumbs, make sure to dry your hands off with a clean towel afterward. After all, the moisture left on your hands after washing may contribute to bacterial transfer. Wipe off wet areas near the faucet to do your part in maintaining cleanliness on surfaces as well.