Wintertime is synonymous with colds and flu. Infectious diseases like influenza, salmonella, E. coli, and hand, foot and mouth disease find their way to your hands and everything they touch. One way to fight back is through the simple act of hand washing.
“During the cold and flu season, make sure you’re getting rid of those germs by following proper hand washing steps,” said Irfan Hafiz, MD, vice president and chief medical officer for Northwestern Medicine in the McHenry County area. Dr. Hafiz said to properly wash your hands, you should start by wetting them with warm running water, adding soap, and then rubbing vigorously for 20 seconds (about as long as it takes to sing the alphabet). Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and the tips of your fingers. Then, rinse your hands and dry them vigorously with a clean towel.
If using a public restroom, use a paper towel to dry. Do not dry with an air dryer. Studies show air dryers actually suck up pathogens in a public bathroom and deposit them on your hands.
“It’s also a good idea to carry waterless hand sanitizer to clean your hands,” Dr. Hafiz said. And, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), germs are often spread when a person touches something that’s contaminated and then touches those areas.
The CDC stresses that keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps a person can take to avoid getting sick and making others sick. It’s a simple act that most people don’t do as often as they should, notes the CDC.
To find a primary care provider, call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).