Proper Hand-Washing and Use of Hand Sanitizer – Guidance from the Doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care

proper-hand-washing-and-use-of-hand-sanitizerHand-washing is the single best way to prevent the spread of infection. As your hands come into contact with various surfaces, items, and people throughout the course of the day, germs naturally accumulate without your even realizing it. If you touch your mouth, eyes, or nose with this bacteria on your hands, you run the risk of infection. While it’s impossible to keep your hands fully germ-free, frequent hand-washing can significantly curtail the transfer of viruses and other microbes. A few tips on when to scrub, the proper technique, and how to instill this habit in your children will go a long way toward protecting your health and that of your family.

To keep your hands as clean as possible, the doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care recommend always washing:

  • Prior to eating, preparing food, inserting or removing contact lenses, taking medicine, aiding a sick person, and providing wound care.
  • After using the bathroom, preparing food, aiding a sick person, touching an animal, handling trash, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hand, changing a diaper, and treating a wound.
  • Whenever your hands appear or feel dirty.
  • With soap and water. Any type of soap – bar, liquid, or powder – will do (antibacterial soap is unnecessary and may even lead to the development of microbial-resistant bacteria). Wet your hands thoroughly with running water, apply soap, and rub all surfaces vigorously for a minimum of 20 seconds. Rinse well, and then dry with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer. If possible, use a towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.
  • With an alcohol-based sanitizer (containing at least 60 percent alcohol) if soap and water are unavailable. Dispense some sanitizer into your palm and rub your hands together to saturate them completely. Continue rubbing, and do not touch anything, until your hands are thoroughly dry.

Demonstrate the proper techniques for your children to help instill in them a habit of frequent hand-washing. Teach them to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while lathering to make it fun and ensure they don’t rush. If they are too small to reach the sink, place a safe step stool nearby. Also, instruct your children not to share personal items like lip balm, cups, and food, and to cough and sneeze into a sleeve instead of their hands.

For more tips on how to keep yourself and your family healthy, be sure to check out our online series of health articles. If you have questions, please contact or visit a Tampa doctor at the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic.