Tired of being told to wash your hands? Here's why it's so important.

Hand hygiene means keeping our hands clean by washing with plain or antimicrobial soap and water or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of infections from one person to another in hospitals and in a community.

Easy transfer

Consider this: As many as 14 people in a row can catch infections just by touching a door handle. We use our hands while doing most of our work. Thereby they pick up germs easily and become the easiest medium of transferring viral, bacterial or fungal infections. This is more so in an office environment where we share things like telephones, copying machines and door handles.

Common cold, influenza (including H1N1), chicken pox, mumps, food-poisoning, respiratory infections and skin infections are some of the diseases that can be unwittingly transmitted by just a handshake.

Make sure your hands are washed after you use a bathroom (whether at home or a public one), after you change a baby's diaper, before you feed a child, before your eat and before you start cooking or handle raw meat, fish, or poultry.

Use hand sanitisers after you have touched surfaces in public places, handled waste, touched your body parts, blown your nose, visited someone in a hospital or touched anything potentially infectious. These are more effective and easier to use than soap and water. However, if our hands are visibly dirty, before eating food and after visiting the toilet we must wash our hands.

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At WorkSeptember 24, 2010