Frequent hand washing can prevent disease

Doctors point out the importance of washing hands several times a day to prevent various diseases. (DC Image)

As the World Health Organization (WHO) theme for this year’s World Handwashing Day (15 October) – “Clean hands within reach” – suggests, the simple and inexpensive act of handwashing can have a positive impact on human health. Research-based evidence proves that at least a dozen infectious diseases can be avoided simply by making a daily handwashing habit.
Doctors point out that washing hands several times a day is very important to prevent various diseases, especially those related to the stomach, skin and respiratory tract. Most infections are bacterial. By maintaining hand hygiene, you can avoid diseases such as gastroenteritis, pneumonia, swine flu and other influenzas, conjunctivitis, hepatitis A (jaundice), typhoid, cholera, acute diarrhoea, bacillary dysentery, scabies and meningitis.

Epidemic promotes hand washing

Hand washing has become crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic. Along with other COVID-appropriate behaviors like wearing a mask and social distancing, proper hand hygiene using soap or sanitizer is one of the primary safeguards against the novel coronavirus. Before the outbreak, more than 50% of people in India did not follow proper handwashing habits. During the epidemic, most people started practicing hand washing. But this awareness appears to be short-lived.

While all hospitals have been overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients during the pandemic, surprisingly, common non-Covid-related infections have dropped significantly. One of the main reasons is strict infection prevention measures, especially hand washing and hand hygiene. But now, after the coronavirus wave subsides, hospitals are filling up with cases of various infectious diseases because most people no longer practice hand hygiene.

When should you wash your hands?

Dr Kutikuppala Surya Rao, a general practitioner in Visakhapatnam and a Padma Shri awardee who has been educating the public on hand washing, said, “It should be a habit to wash hands before and after every meal, before preparing meals and after shaking hands with anyone. habits, after going to the toilet, and after returning from an outing, because you may have handled or touched items contaminated by bacteria. People must wash their hands every time they come into contact with people or objects, take elevators, and touch objects. Stair railings, gates, and call bells, especially After handling banknotes and coins and before handling infants, children or the elderly. Healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, caregivers and hospital visitors should also be encouraged to practice proper hand hygiene to prevent nosocomial or hospital-acquired infections.”

Correct hand washing method

Doctors say there’s no point in simply washing your hands with water because while running water can remove dirt, dust and mud from surfaces, it won’t effectively fight viruses and bacteria without soap or hand sanitizer. Soaps do not need to be medicated as all soaps have antibacterial properties.
“People need to realize that hand washing is not just with water but washing hands with soap or preferably liquid soap for at least 20 seconds at home and in public places. Palms, fingers, fingertips, back of palms and wrists should be covered so even if they are dead or inactive viruses can also be eliminated. If water is not available or one is traveling, alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used and multiple people must avoid using the same bar of soap,” Dr Rao added.

Hand hygiene and ghost syndrome in cricketers

Many people have the habit of moistening their fingers with saliva when turning the pages of a book or counting money. Cricketers are often seen picking up the ball from the ground, smearing it with saliva or sweat, rubbing it on their pants and passing it to another player. This unhygienic behavior is repeated multiple times during the game, involving multiple players on the ground.

Explaining how such practices compromise hygiene, Dr S Vijay Mohan, Senior Consultant Physician, Care Hospital said, “Cricket pitches harbor bacteria, viruses, fungi, spores and worm eggs which are harmful to the health of players and are a potential source of many infections. . Microorganisms on the ground may be transferred to players’ hands, oral secretions (saliva), skin, sweat, and pants, contaminating all areas. Possible illnesses include gastroenteritis, typhoid, tetanus, skin infections, helminth infections, and viruses Infection can even be life-threatening.”

He elaborates: “This can be called ghost syndrome because bacteria jump from these different surfaces and reach the body causing illness – (G-ground, H-hands, O-oral secretions (saliva), S-sweat , T-shirts). The word ‘ghost’ is also appropriate because of the invisible bugs present in the cricket ground soil that affect the players.”

“Microbiologically speaking, our hands and faces are the dirtiest parts of the body. They act as vectors, transporting bacteria and viruses into our body’s internal systems through the mouth and eyes as portals. When we practice daily hand hygiene When damaged, germs can easily enter our body. Therefore, hand washing is very important to prevent many diseases,” says Dr. Vijay Mohan.

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