header image

Cold and Flu Prevention - Focus on Handwashing

Nobody wants to get the flu as it can make you feel miserable. So, what can we do to avoid the flu? Getting a flu vaccine is one way to prevent the possibility of getting the flu, but there are many more. These include the following:

1. Try to Keep away from germs. This may be as simple as avoiding hand shaking with someone who is sick as many germs are spread mostly through hand contact.

2. Eat Healthy Foods - you may want to consider eating foods that have lots of vitamins and immune boosting properties. Foods that are high in antioxidants have been reported to keep you healthy.

3. Always Keep your Hands Clean. We’ve all heard that washing your hands several times a day can help you avoid getting sick during cold and flu season. Soap acts as a vehicle to trap the germs (i.e. viruses, bacteria) that are loosened by the act of rubbing your hands together under water. These germs can then be rinsed away by the water.  Contact with other people throughout the day and by touching contaminated surfaces like doors and computers can cause a variety of cold-causing germs to accumulate on your hands. Then by touching your eyes, nose, and mouth you can infect yourself if you don't wash your hands often enough.


The Best Way to Wash Your Hands

Hand-washing to prevent colds includes using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, a cleanser you can use without water.  If your hands are really dirty and greasy, using warm to hot water will do a better job.
The type of soap also does not typically matter as long as it lathers and spreads over the hands sufficiently to trap the germs.  5 Steps to Proper Hand-Washing:

If using soap and water for hand-washing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following five steps to prevent the spread of colds:

• Wet your hands with clean water — warm, if available and apply soap.
• Lather by rubbing hands together; be sure to cover all surfaces.
• Continue rubbing hands together for 15 to 20 seconds
• Thoroughly rinse hands under running water to ensure the removal of residual germs
• Use paper towels or an air dryer to dry hands and then, if possible, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers make a good substitute for hand-washing when soap and water is not available.  If you're using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, apply product to one palm, rub your two hands together, making sure to reach all surfaces, and continue rubbing until hands are dry.  Preventing a week or two of misery from the common cold or flu will be well worth those 20 seconds spent with soap and water.