Every day, the hands come into contact with millions of bacteria, viruses and parasites. Because people touch their faces every hour hourly, these germs can enter the body via the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose or eyes and cause infections there.

More than 80 percent of all infectious diseases such as colds, flu or gastrointestinal infections are transmitted via the hands. “Above all, clean hands offer protection,” says occupational physician Dr. med. Wiete Schramm, who advises numerous companies as an expert of TÜV Rheinland. For example, studies show that thorough hand washing nearly halves the risk of diarrhea.

Properly clean: water, soap and disposable towel

“Hand hygiene is not difficult  you only have to operate it consistently and correctly,” says Schramm. This means washing with soap and water several times during the day for 20 to 30 seconds the palms and interdental spaces and, if possible, dry with a disposable towel. Such paper towels reduce the germ count, for example, in comparison to textile rolls or towels the strongest. Hand hygiene is particularly important after traveling by public transport, before and after eating, after using the toilet and after coughing or wheezing.

Keep clean

In the workplace, especially on desks, the computer keyboard, door handles and in the refrigerator of the office kitchen, germs can be found. In these areas, therefore, a regular cleaning makes sense, recommends Schramm. To clean the keyboard and mouse are moist alcohol cloths or glass cleaner.

Did you know that to wash your hands properly, you need 40 seconds to a minute

Good hand hygiene can significantly reduce the spread of bacteria and germs that cause diarrhea, vomiting and other dangerous infections. Follow these 8 steps right now to perfect your handwashing technique.

The method to follow for washing hands
Wet hands with hot water
Pour a small amount of soap
Rub your palms
Rub your fingers
Rub your nails
Rub the back of your hands
Rinse with water
Dry them with a clean towel

It is sometimes easy to forget to wash your hands. Try to incorporate this act into your life routine, leave yourself a note, write it down on your hand, or schedule a reminder on your phone.

Some bacterial cells present on our hands may carry genes that allow them to be resistant to a given antibacterial agent. In other words, once certain bacteria killed by the antibacterial agent, remain on the hands the resistant strains, which can then proliferate.

In addition, the genes responsible for the resistance of said bacteria can be transmitted to other bacteria, resulting in the appearance of new resistant strains.

In addition, the long-term use of certain antibacterial gels can be dangerous for your health.

For example, by testing animals on triclosan, an antibacterial agent that was once found in soaps, toothpastes and deodorants, it was found that it altered the way hormones function in the body. US disease control authorities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have banned the use of antiseptic cleaners containing triclosan and many other substances over the counter active antibacterial (note: the European Union has also taken measures to control its use, and last year more than 200 scientists have launched an appeal to ban it).

Knowing this, it may be better to stick to the good old formula water + soap.

All microbes are not undesirable
The presence of certain bacteria is not necessarily a bad thing.

We live surrounded by microbes: hundreds of billions of bacteria populate our epidermis, our intestines and our various orifices. With yeasts and viruses, they form what is called the microbiota. A multitude of exciting research suggests that this microbiota is crucial to the biology of their host.

It can protect us from germs by getting used to our immune system and thanks to the phenomenon of colonization, which helps to block the development of pathogens.

Further research is needed to understand the complex interactions between microbial sets and host cells. But existing work already shows that a diverse and balanced population of microbes is valuable to our health.

Poor nutrition, lack of sleep, stress, and antibiotic use can all disrupt our microbiota, leading to an increased risk of disease. Moreover, we are currently seeing that it actively contributes to preventing diseases but sometimes also to promote them, depending on the state of our microbial communities.

So, what should we remember?
There is no doubt that handwashing with liquid soap and water can limit the proliferation of infectious micro-organisms, including those that are resistant to antimicrobial agents.

When you can not wash your hands after touching dubious surfaces, use an alcohol-based disinfectant gel. Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.

Finally, maintain a healthy microbiota by limiting stress, sleeping enough and “fertilizing” your intestinal microbes through a diet rich in various plants and varied. The world is not only small, it is also dirty.


Reviewer overview

Washing Your Hands Halves the Risk of Illness - Washing Your Hands Halves the Risk of Illness/10


Every day, the hands come into contact with millions of bacteria, viruses and parasites.

0 Bad!


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