Not only is hand washing essential, it is the single most important patient care practice that one can perform – family members, friends and caregivers alike!

Hands are the most common source for transmitting potentially infectious diseases to patients. Research from multiple sources indicate that almost 80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. That is a staggering statistic!

Germs can enter the body through many facets, but hands are the most common carrier. Proper hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs in any environment; home, hospital, work, etc.

6 Steps to Proper Hand Washing

  1. Wet your hand thoroughly with running water
  2. Apply liquid soap and scrub vigorously for at least 10-15 seconds (or sing the full Happy Birthday song!)
  3. Be sure to scrub under your nails, between all your fingers and around rings
  4. Rinse thoroughly under warm running water
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel or fresh paper towel
  6. Turn off the faucet with the paper towel and not with your hands

Common Times for Proper Hand Washing

Proper hand washing should occur several times a day.

  • Before eating, drinking or handling food
  • After using the toilet
  • After handling a contaminated item
  • Before and after attending to a loved one
  • Blowing your nose
  • Covering a cough or sneeze
  • Anytime your hands look or feel dirty

Although proper and frequent hand washing is essential to patient care and overall health, it is important to factor in the impact on the caregiver’s skin. Frequent hand washing can cause dryness, cracking, irritation or dermatitis which can compromise the integrity of the barrier our skin provides therefore increasing the chance of infection. To help combat these symptoms, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  1. Rinse the soap off thoroughly with warm water
  2.  Dry hands completely
  3. Utilize hand creams or lotions to minimize the dryness

If you make hand washing a regular part of your daily care-giving routine, you can help stop the chance of spreading an infection before it even starts!

Happy Hand Washing!