Hand Washing Increases Happiness

by Lori Sciame June 25th, 2012 | Prevention
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You’ve seen it before, I’m sure.  You’re in a public restroom, maybe at a busy airport, or at an amusement park, and a person steps out of the stall and leaves without so much as looking at the sink.  I don’t know about you, but each time I see that happen, my heart sinks.  This is because one of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of illness wasn’t taken advantage of once again.

Yes, folks, simply washing your hands with soap and warm water was heralded as one of the biggest steps in preventing sickness in the field of public health in the last century. This one minute act can save a person from catching anything from the common cold to influenza to rotovirus.  That’s why I assert that hand washing can increase a person’s happiness.  I don’t know about you, but I am sure happy when I make it through the winter season with only minor illnesses.

Consider what the Mayo Clinic has to say about hand washing. “As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Although it’s impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.”

So to up your happiness by staying healthy, always wash your hands before you prepare food, before you touch your eyes to insert or remove contact lenses, before you eat, and before you care for wounds.  You should also wash your hands after using the restroom, after caring for a person who is ill, after preparing food (between each food type as well), after petting an animal, and after any tasks that could contaminate your hands.  As you can see, frequent hand washing throughout the day is best.

Now that you know how important hand washing can be to your health, make sure to do the task correctly.  Lather your wet hands with soap, being sure to clean under fingernails and between fingers, then rinse with warm water.  Most experts suggest to lather all surfaces (including the backs of the hands) for at least 20 seconds.  And don’t recontaminate your hands by touching the faucet and door handle after you finish.  Use a paper towel for those purposes.

Sometimes, soap and water may not be available.  For those cases, have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy.

Hand washing revolutionized public health in the 1900’s.  Because children and adults alike learned about keeping their hands clean, thousands of illnesses have been prevented.  Don’t take this important tool for granted.  Wash your hands correctly and often, and you will definitely lead a happier (healthier) life.


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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.