Wash Your Hands, Please!

Wash Your Hands | CU OB/GYN | Woman washing handsOnce your baby comes home, all sorts of people will want to see her, and talk to her, and sing to her. And touch him, and hold him, and play with him. To keep everyone healthy in the midst of all this activity, people will need to wash their hands A LOT. Even you.But what exactly does that mean? Fortunately, our trusted colleagues at the Mayo Clinic have published some very practical guidelines for you to follow.

They remind us to wash before and after:

  • Handling and eating food
  • Handling garbage
  • Changing contact lenses
  • Interacting with pets and other animals
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Caring for sick people
  • Using the toilet
  • And, everyone’s favorite – CHANGING DIAPERS!

Washing with regular soap and water is recommended most highly. The experts at Mayo advise that antibacterial soap is not more effective than regular soap, and may paradoxically make things worse over time by helping bacteria develop resistance to the antibacterial agents themselves.

Sanitizers containing at least 60 percent alcohol also make acceptable alternatives when soap and clean water are not available. Allowing the sanitizer to dry completely on your hands before touching anything is a key to their efficacy.

We all know the basic steps of hand washing like, well, the backs of our hands. When you are reviewing this for the other children in your life, it can help to break it down into steps.

  1. Wet your hands with running water
  2. Apply soap and lather up
  3. Rub your hands together for 20 seconds
  4. Rinse
  5. Dry

How long is 20 seconds? If you are a child, it can feel like an eternity. Mayo’s handout estimates that 20 seconds is how long it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. (In my own non-scientific home-based experiment, the ABC Song consistently takes 20 – 22 seconds to sing once.)

To read the complete reference and get your family off to a good start, go to the Mayo Clinic’s article Hand Washing: Do’s and Don’ts.

While this information was derived from reliable medical sources, it is not intended as a substitute for your personal medical care. Readers are directed to consult with their personal health care team members when addressing their individual healthcare needs.