The Power of Washing Your Hands

You probably haven’t given it much thought, and it’s part of your routine. But hand washing may be one of the most important things you can do to protect your family and child from getting sick.

Get your child into the habit of washing his or her hands often and thoroughly. You child is exposed to bacteria and viruses all the time just by playing with other children, sharing toys, or even from touching a pet. Once the germs are on his or her hands, you know what comes next – those fingers are everywhere!  They’ll be putting their fingers in the mouth, rubbing their eyes, or touching noses – and it can happen in seconds.

Proper Hand Washing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following steps to be sure to thoroughly wash your and your child’s hands.

  1. Wet your child’s hands
  2. Use a clean bar of soap or liquid soap and get some soap onto your child’s hands. Place the bar of soap on a rack where it can drain before the next hand washing.
  3. Rub his or her hands vigorously together, and make sure to scrub every surface completely. Don’t forget the finger nails!
  4. Keep rubbing and scrubbing for 10 to 15 seconds to effectively remove the germs.
  5. Rinse hands completely, then dry them

A note about antibacterial soaps:

Store shelves are full or antibacterial soaps, but studies have shown that antibacterial products are no better at washing away dirt and germs than regular soap. The best solution is to wash your child’s hands with warm water and ordinary soap that does not contain antibacterial substances like triclosan. The regular use of soap and water is better than using waterless hand sanitizer, but if there’s no sink available (like in the car), hand rubs can be a useful alternative.

How long should you wash for?

Although 10 to 15 seconds of hand washing sounds like a short time, it is longer than you think. Next time you wash your hands, time yourself. Watch your child while washing his or her hands to make sure that they are developing good hygiene behaviors. Make it fun! Pick a song that lasts for 10-15 seconds and sing it while you wash (Row, Row, Row Your Boat usually lasts about 10 seconds). Encourage your children to wash their hands not only at home, but also at school, day care, a friend’s house, and everywhere in between.

This article is sponsored by the Hopewell Junction offices of Children’s Medical Group. Our providers have been caring for children from Hopewell Junction to Poughquag, from Lagrange to Wappingers Falls and many other communities in Dutchess County for 15 years. Our Hopewell Junction NY pediatrician provide a small office environment where you get to know your doctors, while having all of the resources that a large pediatric practice can offer.

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Source: CMG