Do You Know About The “Do-It-Yourself” Vaccine?

What is that one thing you can do this holiday season to prevent colds and flu?

photo-blog-hand-washingHand washing, hand washing and more hand washing!  Hand washing is known as the “do it yourself vaccine”.

During the holiday season many people attend holiday parties to celebrate with friends and family.  Many hugs, kisses and shaking of hands are exchanged.

According to the CDC frequent hand washing throughout the day can prevent the flu, colds, food borne and gastrointestinal illnesses.  If you wash your hands you will avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

What are the effective steps in hand washing?

The five steps to effective hand washing are wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry.  Wash your hands often and before and after certain activities.  Wash your hands by scrubbing them under cool or warm running water with soap for at least 20 seconds. Studies indicate that in a non-hospital setting, soap does not need to be antibacterial. Wash between fingers and the front and back of your hands.   Rinse with running water, and dry your hands well.  Washing your hands with soap and water is more effective in reducing the number of microbes, compared to just rinsing with water.  The soap contains surfactants that lift soil and microbes (organisms that may or may not cause disease) from the skin. Additionally people tend to scrub more thoroughly when using soap which enhances the removal of germs. However, if there is no access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Are Alcohol-based hand sanitizers effective?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% to 95% alcohol are most effective.  They are not effective in eliminating all germs, and hands that are visibly dirty or greasy should be washed with soap and water.   When using alcohol based hand sanitizers people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried, rendering it ineffective in reducing microbes.     Everyone can carry a small pocket alcohol-based sanitizer; for women in your handbag, and men in your pants pocket.

Proper hygiene is the key to keeping healthy!

Holiday stress affects people due to the multiple commitments and interactions with family and friends.  In addition, the winter season is peak time for influenza and other viral illnesses.  The easiest way to prevent becoming sick, or preventing the spread of diseases and viruses is to wash your hands often.

So enjoy your holiday season, and wishing you good health!

Want to find out more?

Premier HealthNet
Answers to Common Holiday Health Questions
Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
Show Me the Science – When to Use Hand Sanitizer

Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.

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