Hand hygiene is an aspect of hygiene that most people often neglect to take seriously over the years. But this novel covid-19 pandemic shifted a lot of people to focus more on hand hygiene.
In some places, they do not make provision for handwashing facilities. Now, it has become one of the requirements in any workplace.
Germs are everywhere, in our environment, most harmful ones cause diseases and make people sick. Your ability to practice hand hygiene prevents these germs from making you sick. Well, let us take a brief look at what hand hygiene means.
What is hand hygiene?
It is a way of cleaning one’s hand to make it clean and free of harmful microorganism that can cause disease to people.
Hand hygiene is an activity that is very important because it reduces a person to person transmission of disease.
In hand hygiene, you can either use water and soap. Or you use hand sanitizers. There is a big difference when using water and soap, and when using a hand sanitizer.
Sometimes, hand sanitizers are not effective in killing some certain germs such as Norovirus, Cryptosporidium. But it’s more effective with water and soap.
When to practice hand hygiene.
Practising hand hygiene is an all-time affair in all profession. However, the World Health Organization recommended various times when we need to engage in hand hygiene as written below.
- Before you want to eat.
- After doing any work or after work.
- After you visit a hospital
- When you’ve embarked on travel.
- When you have touched a waste or garbage.
- Before you care for a sick and after the care.
- Before, during, and after preparing a food
- After helping someone who just used the toilet zone.
- Before and after visiting a public environment that exposes your hand to touch frequent places like doorknobs.
- After blowing your nose or sneezing because of catarrh or running nose.
- And if your hand is dirty or visibly greasy.
- After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste.
For those that are working as health care professionals, the World Health Organization also defined a critical moment called five moments of hand hygiene approach.
Mostly on when the health worker had to practice hand hygiene during work, and they include
- Before touching a patient,
- Before aseptic procedures,
- After body fluid exposure/risk,
- After touching a patient, and
- After touching patient surroundings
How to use water and soap.
- Ensure you make running water and soap available in a designated place where it is for everyone to use
- Wet your hand with the running water and apply soap on it. Then, put off the tap. Running water is best than when in a basin. When in a basin, It should be a NO-NO as it would be re-contaminated over and over again.
- Ensure you lather your hand very well and make sure that all places like the back of your hand, place between your finger and under your nails.
- Time yourself and make sure you scrub your hand for at least 20 seconds to allow the soap to kill the microorganism.
- Ensure you rinse your hand very well, make use of a towel or a hand dryer if there is one.
Use of Hand sanitizer.
A hand sanitizer is a non-water-based hand hygiene agent introduced in late 1990. Very effective hand sanitizers should contain more than 60 per cent of alcohol.
Hand sanitizers are put to use when there is no water and soap for you to wash your hand.
You can make it handy by carrying it with you when you visit places that are liable for you to contract diseases such as hospital, or sick people homes.
During usage, ensure you put enough of it on your palm and rub it gently to cover all surfaces. Continue to rub it on your hands until your hand becomes dry.
You don’t have to wash off your hand once you have applied the hand sanitizer as this may prevent the hand sanitizer from working effectively.
Benefits of hand hygiene.
- Hand hygiene has tremendous health benefits for humans. It curtails the spread of many infectious diseases such as influenza, coronavirus, and diarrhoea.
- It reduces the infant mortality rate associated with home birth deliveries.
- It decreases the spread of respiratory infections and prevents it from spreading from person to person through contact mechanism.
- Hand hygiene can save more lives than what any single vaccine can do, for instance, washing of hand before and after toilet would prevent the transmission for germs from your hands to your body.
- Hand hygiene helps to combat antibiotic resistance since bacteria causing disease is killed and reduced, and prescription of antibiotics would be unnecessary.
- There is a reduction in foodborne diseases.
- There is a reduction on infections through the eyes, mouth and nose and even ear when there is proper hand hygiene.
Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.