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Why is Hand Hygiene so important?

Your hands are gross - unfortunately, this is the unpleasant truth that nobody wants to hear.

Wherever you go, you are in contact with an infinite number of surfaces, all of which carry their own tiny armies of nasty germs that are just waiting for you to touch them. Take a look at the following facts, as you might not realize just how gross your hands really are.

  • Germs can survive for up to three hours on your hands.
  • There are between 2 - 10 million bacteria on your fingertips and elbows.
  • The number of germs on your fingertips doubles after you use the toilet.
  • When you don’t clean your hands, you transfer germs to the food and drinks you eat.
  • Your hands spread 1,000 times more germs when they are damp than when they are dry.

If this hasn’t changed your perception of how important hand hygiene is, then here is one final fact: More than80% of all infections are transmitted through the hands.This shows that clean hands are the frontline defense against the spread of germs and infectious diseases and most people are not even aware of it.

Even if your hands appear to be clean at first sight, they may carry germs. Hands pick up micro-organisms (germs) in a number of ways.

When people who are sick or unknowingly carry a virus sneeze or cough, the germs that are making them sick are expelled into the air in tiny droplets. The larger the droplet, the more likely it will fall to the ground or nearby surfaces. Lydia Bourouiba, an MIT scientist, even argues that some of the droplets can travel over 8 meters. Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain for hours or even days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. If a person touches these droplets and then rubs their face, mouth, eyes, or nose without washing or sanitizing away the germs, you can contract the infection. 

Cleaning your hands not only prevents you from getting sick, but it also reduces the risk of infecting others. If you don't wash your hands properly before coming in contact with others, you can infect them with the germs on your hands. Other people can also get sick from the germs that unwashed hands leave on shared objects like doorknobs, keyboards, and other equipment in the home or workplace. 

Washing and sanitizing your hands are both equally effective in killing and removing germs from your hands. Since the possibility to wash your hands is not always an option, hand sanitizers are the best alternative for clean hands on the go. 

However, most people do not disinfect their hands regularly enough in everyday practice. The reasons for this are manyfold and range from the insufficient availability of disinfectants within different environments to a lack of high-quality products that are effective, skin-friendly, and convenient at the same time.

Keeping your hands clean is not only the most effective way to avoid the spread of infections but also an easy behavior to adopt that can make a positive difference for others. So, next time you’re visiting your parents or grandparents, be sure to do them a favor and clean your hands for their protection. It’s the small things that make a positive difference, and you can be a big part of it.

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