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Why It’s Essential to Wash Your Hands

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Why It’s Essential to Wash Your Hands

Winter is nearly here, bringing an increase in the common cold, flu, COVID-19, and other viruses. With one simple habit, you can help your body stay healthy: wash your hands. This everyday habit is more than just an act of cleanliness; it's a powerful tool for preventive care that can shield you from many illnesses. That’s why the first full week of December, we celebrate National Handwashing Awareness Week to remind us why it is essential to wash our hands to stay healthy.

Why Should We Wash Our Hands Regularly?

Hand hygiene is often overlooked, but it is a fundamental aspect of public health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections, including colds.

Our hands are constantly in contact with various surfaces, from door handles to cell phones, keyboards, and money. Each of these surfaces harbors countless germs, including bacteria and viruses. When we touch our faces, eat with our hands, or come into contact with others, these germs can easily enter our bodies and cause illness.

Regular handwashing is an effective way to remove these germs and prevent their spread. It's particularly crucial during the winter months when respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses are more prevalent.

Hand Hygiene and Preventive Care

Handwashing doesn't just keep you healthy; it can also prevent the spread of infectious diseases to others. It's especially important in high-risk environments like hospitals and healthcare facilities, where vulnerable individuals may be exposed to harmful pathogens.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes hand hygiene as a critical element of infection prevention and control. They even celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day annually on May 5th to raise awareness about the importance of clean hands.

Making Handwashing a Habit

How can you make handwashing a regular habit? The key is to incorporate it into your daily routine:

  • Always wash your hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, and when visibly dirty.
  • Use soap and clean, running water. Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds, making sure to clean all areas, including under your nails.
  • Dry your hands thoroughly with a clean towel or air dry them.
  • Hand sanitizers can be used as a substitute when soap and water are not available, but they're not as effective at removing certain types of germs and harmful chemicals.

Antelope Valley Medical Center is Here For You This Winter

Handwashing is more than just a measure of personal hygiene. It's a simple, effective tool for preventive care that can help keep you and those around you healthy. With an increase in viruses and illnesses this season, Antelope Valley Medical Center is here to help with whatever you may be up against. Learn more about our services here.