Prevent colds and flu all year long!

Cold and flu season is upon us, just in time for National Handwashing Awareness Week, December 4th-10th, 2016.

Practicing the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness, endorsed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians will ensure you stay well:

  1. Wash your hands. It is like a “do-it-yourself vaccine”.
    Before: preparing food or eating, treating wounds, giving medicine, caring for a sick or injured person and inserting or removing contact lenses. After: preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry, using the toilet or changing a diaper, touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands, treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured persons, handling garbage, household or garden chemicals (or anything that could be contaminated, such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes), and shaking hands with others
  2. Do not cough into your hands.
  3. Do not sneeze into your hands.
  4. Above all, to avoid infecting yourself with virus on your hands, keep your hands away from the T-Zone. This refers to the mucous membranes of your mouth, eyes, and nose. For gastrointestinal illnesses and respiratory illnesses such as the flu, adenovirus, RSV, the common cold, conjunctivitis (pink-eye), pharyngitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia the T-Zone is the ONLY portal of entry. Keeping your hands away from these areas will reduce your risk of infection significantly.

What is the best way to clean your hands?
In general, if soap and water are available, it should be the first choice. Antibacterial soaps are no more effective at killing germs than regular soap. In fact, they can lead to anti-microbial resistance.

What about hand sanitizer?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are very popular, but remember they don’t kill ALL types of germs, such as a stomach bug called norovirus, some parasites, and Clostridium difficile. Unlike soap and water, hand sanitizers do not remove harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and heavy metals like lead.

Proper Handwashing Technique:
1. Wet your hands with running water.
2. Apply liquid, bar or powder soap.
3. Lather well.
4. Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
5. Rinse well.
6. Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
7. If possible, use a towel or your elbow to turn off the faucet.

Here’s hoping you get through this season illness-free!

Be well!