Every 29th of October is hand washing day. It is celebrated to increase awareness on the importance of hand washing to prevent diseases and save lives. Hand washing is otherwise known as hand hygiene and it involves the cleaning of the hands with soap and clean water. If clean water is unavailable the use of soaps to clean the hands is important after which a hand sanitizer to clean the hands can be used to reduce the number of germs on the hands. Hand washing is mostly practiced as a routine in the hospitals by health workers who come in contact with patients. It is expected that every individual irrespective of status, age or location should practice hand washing as this helps to keep sickness and disease from us. Washing of hands should be a routine not just when our hands are obviously dirty. The following will help make the practice easy.

  • Wash your hands after before and after food
  • Before and after using the toilet
  • After touching a contaminated object
  • After cleaning contaminated wound
  • After carrying for the sick
  • After waste disposal
  • After sweeping and cleaning
  • After touching a pet or any animal
  • Inserting or removing contact lenses
  • Handling food and food products

How to wash your hands

Washing of hands is a systematic process employed at getting dirt or germs off the hands at the barest minimum. Here are simple tips to it.

  • Inspect the back and front of your hands and fingers
  • Damp your hands under water, it is most preferably to wash under clean running water
  • Rub your hands with soap and rub together taking note of the back of the hands.
  • Wash under running water and rub with soap again this time paying attention to your knuckles, between your fingers and fingernails.
  • Wash from palm to palm using rotational motion
  • Wash the right palm over left dorsum with interlaced fingers and vice versa
  • Back of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked
  • Rinse the whole hand under water paying attention to the fingernails.
  • Dry hands with a clean towel
  • Use towel to turn off the faucet

To ensure a clean hand it is important to have your nails well-trimmed and short. The use of hand sanitizers is encouraged especially in situations where there is no soap or clean water for use.

Below are some of the benefits of hand washing. They include the following;

  1. Reduce germs on your hands: The other means of limiting germs on a surface are sterilization and autoclaving etc. The hands can’t be sterilized to totally remove germs from it but can be washed. Hand washing is employed among health workers in contact with sick persons to reduce spread of infections from one person to another.
  2. Promote health: A microbiologist, Ignaz Sammelweis popularly known as saviour of mothers discovered the incidence of puerperal fever when physicians took delivery of women without washing their hands and this led to increased mortality of mothers at that time. He then advocated the practice of hand washing in hospitals to reduce the spread of diseases.
  3. Reduce respiratory infections: Germs responsible for respiratory infections are airborne and are transmitted through droplets in form of cough, catarrh and sneeze. Most times this germs present in the hands are transmitted from person to another through shared contaminated objects
  4. Keeps our environment free of bacteria: When hands are constantly washed, it limits the extent of contamination on objects in the environment thereby limiting spread of disease.
  5. Prevention of intestinal diseases: Intestinal disorders such as diarrhoea, gastritis and vomiting is greatly prevented when hands are promptly and properly washed especially after toilet use or contact with waste of any kind.