Germs are all around us, and parents everywhere are trying to make sure to keep their homes and children as healthy and germ-free as possible. What is the most important thing you can do to help prevent sickness and disease? According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s WASHING YOUR HANDS! It is important to teach your kids from an early age to get in the habit of washing their hands often. All day long kids are touching things like shared toys, school supplies, or pets that are exposing them to bacteria and viruses. These germs can quickly get into their system when they rub their eyes, touch their nose, or put food or their fingers in their mouth. While this can happen in seconds, the infection that can result can last days, weeks, or even longer.
You should wash your hands frequently throughout the day, but especially after using the bathroom. Studies in public restrooms have shown that most people who use them don’t have good hygiene habits. Rinsing your hands under water or putting soap on and quickly washing it off is not an effective way to kill the germs on your hands. You should also wash your hands before eating, after coming in from outside, after touching an animal or pet, and after sneezing or coughing into your hands. If someone in your household is sick, you should wash your hands even more frequently to avoid getting the illness yourself.
Steps to Proper Hand Washing
So what does a thorough hand washing involve? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following steps:
- Wet your child’s hands.
- Apply clean bar soap or liquid soap to the hands, and then place the bar on a rack where it can drain before the next hand washing.
- Rub the hands vigorously together. Scrub every surface completely.
- Keep rubbing and scrubbing for 20 seconds to effectively remove the germs.
- Rinse the hands completely, then dry them.
Are Antibacterial Soaps More Effective?
Studies have shown that antibacterial soaps are not any more effective than regular soap. Washing your hands with soap is always the preferred way to get your hands clean of germs and dirt. If soap and water aren’t available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used to reduce germs on your hands.
Make It Fun!
Experts suggest washing your hands for 20 seconds. This doesn’t seem like a long time, but try counting the next time to wash to see how you measure up! You can help make handwashing fun for kids by having them sing their favorite song while washing. Watch your child wash their hands periodically so you can make sure they are washing every part of the hand and scrubbing effectively. Teach them to wash at school, friend’s houses, or any other place they might visit. Establishing a habit of handwashing with your kids will help prevent against sickness and disease. While you can’t prevent every germ they come into contact with, handwashing is an effective tool and important part of a healthy life.
If you have questions about your child’s health, contact The Pediatric Center for an appointment. With night and weekend hours available, The Pediatric Center is here for you when you need us! We have been serving eastern Idaho for over 55 years providing quality pediatric care from birth to the age of 19.
Some information provided by healthychildren.org.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.