Wash Your Hands

This time of year, there’s no shortage of illnesses going around. As a service which tracks trending illnesses at a hyperlocal level, Sickweather® is busier than ever keeping track of it all. One of the interesting parts of the illness tracking business is understanding how germs spread.

The dirty truth? Germs are everywhere — and hands are one of the big ways they get spread.

It’s estimated 80% of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. That means washing your hands with soap and water is extremely important to slowing or stopping the passing of germs.

You may wonder how the germs get on your hands in the first place. Some of it is obvious, some is not.

According to the CDC, one of the big sources of germs like Salmonella, E. coli and norovirus, which can cause diarrhea, is feces (poop) from people or animals.

These types of germs can get onto your hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper. However, that’s not the only way. You can also get them after handling raw meats that have trace amounts of animal feces on them. And it doesn’t take much to cause problems. A single gram of human feces — about the weigh of a paperclip — can contain up to one TRILLION germs!

Additionally, most of us touch our eyes, nose, and mouth without realizing it. This can introduce germs into your body. Germs from unwashed hands may also get into foods and drinks when they are prepared our consumed by people.

But wait — there’s more…

If you touch objects that have germs on them because someone coughed or sneezed on it, you can get germs on your hands. If you don’t get those germs washed off your hands, you can pass them along to others and make them sick.

There are more ways germs get transferred by our hands, but you get the point. So, now that we know these germs are out there, they can be nasty characters and they are easily transferred — how does handwashing help?

Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands and helps prevent sickness. Studies have shown that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu. In other words, handwashing stops or slows the germ roadshow.

But you need to wash your hands properly to have the best effect. What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
  • Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the palms, backs, fingers, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds. (That’s the length of the “Happy Birthday” song twice.)
  • Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

By washing your hands properly and frequently, you can help cut down on your chance of getting sick and help prevent the spread of germs to others.

Do yourself and everyone a favor — wash your hands!

To monitor trending illnesses in your area — including those that can be spread by not washing your hands — download the Sickweather app today. iOS — http://sick.io/ios or Android: http://sick.io/android

Sources: https://scrubsmag.com/5-surprising-facts-hand-washing/, https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html