Cleaning your hands, either with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand rub, is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading infections to others, according to Dr. Magdy Badran.
Hand hygiene is easy and effective. It is the easiest and most affordable way that we can fight antibiotic resistance from the origin; we can break the chain of infection with clean hands, thus reducing the need for the use of antibiotics. Hand washing with soap has been found to reduce school absenteeism by 43% fewer days.
Hand washing and Coronavirus
Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, meaning it is mostly spread through virus-laden droplets from coughs and sneezes. If you don’t catch your coughs and sneezes in tissue and safely dispose of it, the virus can end up on surfaces.
If someone else touches that contaminated surface, the virus can transfer onto his hands. If you have the virus on your hands, you can infect yourself by touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. A 2015 study found that people touch their faces an average of 23 times an hour.
Coronavirus is an ‘enveloped virus’. This means it has a protective outer layer known as a ‘lipid bilayer’. The molecules making up this layer are shaped like a tadpole, with a water-loving (hydrophilic) round head and a water-hating (hydrophobic) tail.
These molecules arrange themselves into a ‘bilayer’: two layers piled on top of each other into a sheet, with tails pointing inwards and heads pointing outwards.
The molecules are pulled closely into each other to protect the hydrophobic tails from the water in your respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze.
The hydrophilic heads are very ‘sticky’, meaning the virus is very effective at sticking to your hands – perfect for a microbe that’s trying very hard to infect you.
Soap molecules also have this tadpole structure, which is what makes it so useful. When you have something oily on your hands, running water won’t get rid of it. Add soap to your hands – the hydrophobic tail will cling to the oil, and the hydrophilic head will stick to the water. Now, the oil will come straight off.
Because the soap molecules are so similar to the ones making up the outer layer of the virus, the molecules in the lipid bilayer are as strongly attracted to soap molecules as they are to each other. This disrupts the neatly-ordered shell around the virus, dissolving it in the running water and killing the virus.
Frequent and regular hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds is one of the most important prevention measures for COVID-19. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
It is recommended to wash hands with soap and water whenever possible, as hand washing reduces the amount of all types of germs on hands.
Key times for hand washing include after contact with a sick person; after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose; after touching potentially infected surfaces, such as laptops or doorknobs; before eating; and after using the bathroom.
Alcohol-based hand rubs can inactivate many types of microbes, including coronavirus, effectively when used correctly. Use alcohol-based hand rub if water and soap are not available.
If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used.
Hand washing and Diarrhea
Hand washing Reduces Incidence of diarrhea by About 30% and endemic diarrhea by 48%. Simply washing hands with soap and water after going to the toilet, before eating or feeding and before preparing food can help prevent life-threatening illnesses such as diarrhea, cholera, and intestinal worms.
Poor hand hygiene, causes preventable diseases and outbreaks, keeping children out of school, stopping adults from working, putting more babies and mums in hospital, and putting institutions such as schools and healthcare facilities at.
Every day around 800 children under five dies from diarrhea caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene.
Hand washing promotion reduced the incidence of diarrhea in day-care centers and schools by approximately one-third in high-income settings, and may prevent a similar proportion in low- and middle-income settings
The organisms causing diarrhea are transmitted from person to person through food and water contaminated with faces, or through person‐to‐person contact.
Hand washing after defecation, or after cleaning a baby’s bottom, and before preparing and eating food, can, therefore, reduce the risk of diarrhea.
Repeated diarrhea in early life has a long-lasting and irreversible impact on a child’s nutritional status and development potential. Globally, 156 million children under five are stunted and 50 million are wasted because they don’t have adequate WASH facilities and behaviors.
Hand washing and Respiratory Infections
Acute respiratory infections, including pneumonia, are a leading cause of death in children under the age of five. Pneumonia alone accounts for approximately 13% of child deaths.
Hand washing reduces the rate of respiratory infections by removing respiratory pathogens from hands and preventing them from entering the body or passing on to other people. Handwashing with soap has been linked to a 16-23% reduction in the incidence of acute respiratory infection and a 50% reduction in pneumonia.
Proper hand washing also helps prevent the spread of cold and flu by removing viruses that get onto hands from coughs and sneezes.
This is particularly important during the flu season. Hand hygiene is a simple, low‐cost, non‐pharmaceutical intervention that was recommended by local, national, and international health agencies to prevent influenza transmission during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
Handwashing and Nosocomial Infections
Healthcare-associated infections (nosocomial infections) contribute to antimicrobial resistance, which causes 700,000 deaths each year. All hospitalized patients are susceptible to contracting a nosocomial infection.
Some patients are at greater risk than others-young children, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are more likely to get an infection. Nosocomial infections impact hundreds of millions of patients every year and often lead to other infections, long-term disability, and death.
Some well-known nosocomial infections include ventilator-associated pneumonia, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Tuberculosis, and urinary tract infection.
Nosocomial infections prolong recovery time and hospital stays, resulting in morbidity, increase medical costs, and pose life-threatening risks for patients.