Are you sick and tired of being “sick and tired?” It seems like everyone caught the flu this winter, and just couldn’t get rid of it! The number one way to prevent “catching” a contagious disease is to wash your hands frequently. Ordinary hand-washing is a matter of getting really sick or staying well. Hand-washing can also help you get well sooner, as it prevents re-infection.
Did you know that you have over 200 million bacteria on your hands at any given time? This includes the natural “good” bacteria as well as the “dangerous” ones that transmit disease. The good bacteria are helpful because they take up space, and leave less room for the bad bacteria to reside. The bad bacteria lurk on toilet-flush levers and water faucets in public restrooms, on door knobs of offices, on phones, and on the hands of the person you just shook hands with! Yuk! All of this stays on your hands, just waiting for you to touch your nose, your mouth, or your eyes. Bingo! You are infected!
It is the sweat glands and the creases inyour hands that are the “hideouts.” The sweat irrigates the bacteria. The bacteria do not grow there, but wait until they come into contact with mucous membranes, where they can grow. On the backside of your hands, the hair follicles create little holes for the bacteria. But the worst place is under your fingernails, where 95% of the bacteria reside.
The good news is that regular soap and water immediately dissolves the grease and exposes the bacteria. As you lather up, the bacteria are caught up in the soapy water and washed away. Keep rubbing the soap around for 15 seconds or more before rinsing. Surgeons often extend this procedure for five minutes! You can also use alcohol rinse. Antibacterial soaps are not recommended because too many infections are already resistant to antibiotics.