Hand washing (soap and sanitizer)

 

Hand washing with soap Handwashing, hand hygiene

 

Hand washing, also known as hand hygiene, is the act of cleaning hands for the purpose of removing soil, dirt, grease, stains and microorganisms. If water and soap are not available, hands can be cleaned with ash instead. 

 

Medical hand hygiene refers to hygiene practices related to medical procedures. Hand washing before administering medicine or medical care can prevent or minimize the spread of disease. The main medical purpose of washing hands is to cleanse the hands of pathogens (like bacteria or viruses) and chemicals which can cause harm or disease. This is especially important for people who handle food or work in the medical field, but also an important practice for the general public.

 

Handwashing with soap consistently at critical moments during the day prevents the spread of diseases like diarrhea and cholera which are transmitted through fecal-oral routes. People can become infected with respiratory diseases such as influenza or the common cold, for example, if they do not wash their hands before touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

 

Solid soap

Solid soap, because of its reusable nature, may hold bacteria acquired from previous uses. A small number of studies which have looked at the bacterial transfer from contaminated solid soap have concluded transfer is unlikely as the bacteria are rinsed off with the foam. The CDC still states "liquid soap with hands-free controls for dispensing is preferable".

 

Antibacterial soap

Antibacterial soaps have been heavily promoted to a health-conscious public. To date, there is no evidence that using recommended antiseptics or disinfectants selects for antibiotic-resistant organisms in nature. However, antibacterial soaps contain common antibacterial agents such as triclosan, which has an extensive list of resistant strains of organisms. 

 

A comprehensive analysis from the University of Oregon School of Public Health indicated that plain soaps are as effective as consumer-grade anti-bacterial soaps containing triclosan in preventing illness and removing bacteria from the hands

 

Water

Hot water that is comfortable for washing hands is not hot enough to kill bacteria. Bacteria grow much faster at body temperature (37 C). However, warm, soapy water is more effective than cold, soapy water at removing the natural oils on your hands which hold soils and bacteria. 

 

Hand sanitizers

 

Hand disinfection procedure according to the German standard DIN EN 1500

A hand sanitizer or hand antiseptic is a non-water-based hand hygiene agent. In the late 1990s and early part of the 21st century, alcohol rub non-water-based hand hygiene agents (also known as alcohol-based hand rubs, antiseptic hand rubs, or hand sanitizers) began to gain popularity. Most are based on isopropyl alcohol or ethanol formulated together with a thickening agent such as Carbomer into a gel, or a humectant such as glycerin into a liquid, or foam for ease of use and to decrease the drying effect of the alcohol.

 

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