Why hand washing is so important

Right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, regular hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus and avoid yourself and others getting ill. The way you wash your hands is especially important, scrubbing the palms, back of hands, in-between fingers and underneath the fingernails and jewellery gets to all the places where germs can get missed. Be sure to lather with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or more – the equivalent of singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice - and dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them.

Washing your hands just with water is a good way of removing dirt and is better than not washing them at all, but washing with soap and water is generally the best way to get rid of germs. Whether you are at home, work, or out-and-about in the community, there are usually ample opportunities for hand washing, but if facilities are not readily available then use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser which you can carry with you. Make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol though, and remember, sanitisers don’t get rid of all types of germs so choose soap and water when you can

Here's why hand washing is effective:

  • Washing hands prevents illnesses and the spread of infection to others when touching other objects or preparing food and drink
  • Germs enter the body through the eyes, mouth and nose, so keeping hands clean and reducing the amount of times you touch your face will help reduce infection
  • Cleaning hands with soap and water removes multiple types of germs
  • Hand washing helps battle the rise in antibiotic resistance by keeping infection rates down

Looking after the skin on your hands is also important. You may find that increasing hand washing makes the skin drier and even slightly irritated. Be sure to apply a water-based absorbent hand cream 3 or 4 times daily to keep skin moisturised. Consult a doctor if skin irritation develops or continues.

Washing your hands is a simple but very effective way to protect you and your family.