Hygiene Experts Share Research On The Best Ways To Wash And Dry Your Hands To Fight Infection
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There's been lots of noise around the right way to protect yourself from coronavirus - and infection in general - over the last couple of weeks.
But one piece of advice stands out more than any other - and it couldn't be simpler.
Wash your hands.
Good hand hygiene is a message that health officials have been keen to spread for years - so there's understandable frustration that people are only starting to really adhere to it now.
In fact, a recent LADbible poll of more than 20,000 people found that around a third didn't always wash their hands after a visit to the loo.
The reality is that washing your hands often is the best way to fight the spread of germs. Good hand hygiene is a key part of keeping medical environments such as hospitals and GP's surgeries resilient against wider infection.
So we should really be doing it more as part of our standard daily routine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have some really useful tips on the best way to wash your hands to make sure you're killing as many germs as you can.
Yes, we all know about the 'Happy Birthday' thing, but here's the actual science depending on what you're using.
For soap and water to be effective, 40-60 seconds of handwashing are required. For alcohol-based hand rub 20-40 seconds is sufficient as alcohol is more potent and works more rapidly.
Apart from the issue of skin tolerance and general comfort, water temperature does not appear to be a critical factor for microbial removal from hands being washed. So it doesn't matter if you're using the hot or cold tap, or a mix of the two. The end result is the same, according to the WHO.
The only thing you'll need to be aware of is skin irritation. The WHO carried out a study comparing water temperatures of 4°C, 20°C and 40°C; warmer temperatures were shown to be significantly associated with skin irritation.
The use of very hot water for handwashing should therefore be avoided as it increases the likelihood of skin damage.
Once you've washed them, make sure you dry them properly. Coronavirus lives in water droplets and because wet hands can more readily acquire and spread microorganisms, the proper drying of hands is an integral part of routine handwashing.
Careful hand drying is a critical factor determining the level of bacterial transfer associated with touch contact after hand cleansing.
Paper towels, cloth towels, and warm air dryers are commonly used to dry washed hands. One study compared four methods of hand drying: cloth towels from a roller; paper towels left on a sink; warm air dryer; and letting hands dry by evaporation.
No one method was shown to be any better or worse than another. Reusing or sharing towels should be avoided because of the risk of cross-infection.
It's okay to not panic. LADbible and UNILAD's aim with our Coronavirus campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we're facing. For more information from the World Health Organisation on Coronavirus, click here.
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