Are people sneezing and coughing all around you? What can you do to avoid getting sick? Wash your hands. Washing your hands can help prevent flu, salmonella (bacteria from undercooked/raw food), hepatitis A, colds, food poisoning, rotavirus and mononucleosis. It is the number one thing you can do to protect yourself from getting sick.

Let’s review the steps: 

  1. Dampen your hands with water, add soap and rub them together. Rubbing your hands together after they are wet and have soap on them gets rid of the germs on your skin.
  2. Make sure all surfaces, including the areas between your fingers, are rubbed with the soap and water mixture. You should do this for at least 15 seconds, or long enough to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
  3. After you have rubbed your hands vigorously together, you can rinse with water and then dry with a towel, paper towel or air dryer. It is best to use a paper towel to turn off the water faucet and open the door when you exit because you never know what is on those handles.

Foam or gel cleansers work well and are acceptable, but soap and water should always be used after using the restroom or when any visible dirt or soilage is present.

It is always okay to ask anyone who is going to have direct contact with your child to wash their hands. This includes doctors, nurses, relatives and friends. St. Louis Children’s Hospital has created a video that is an excellent reminder of the need to wash our hands, and it can be found here.

Prevent the spread of germs by washing your hands, especially after using the restroom and before eating or touching your face. By taking this action, you will help yourself and your child stay well.

This article was written by Kristine Moore, RN, a nurse on Children’s Direct at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.


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