Magazine article Work & Family Life

No. 1 Infection Fighter. . .Wash Your Hands

Magazine article Work & Family Life

No. 1 Infection Fighter. . .Wash Your Hands

Article excerpt

Remedies come and go, but there's still no cure for the common cold. Proper handwashing remains the single best way to prevent colds and fight infections.

The Center for Disease Control encourages us to lather up with soap and rub all surfaces of our hands together for 20 seconds - the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. The World Health Organization says the whole process - from washing to drying - should take from 40 to 60 seconds.

Experts agree that we should wash our hands: (a) before and after eating or preparing food, especially raw meat, fish and eggs, (b) after using the toilet, (c) after blowing our nose, (d) after changing a diaper, (e) after playing with pets or cleaning up their waste, (f) before and after touching someone sick or treating a wound, (g) before putting in contact lenses and (h) after gardening. And here are some answers to frequently asked questions about handwashing:

* DOES WATER TEMPERATURE MATTER? Two studies suggest it has no significant effect on reducing bacteria. Hotter water does cut through oil faster but it can be an irritant, and cooler water will do the job.

* HOW SHOULD I DRY MY HANDS? What works best: paper or cloth towels or a warm-air dryer? A Mayo Clinic study found no differences between these methods. …

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