Wash your hands to stop the spread of infections

Are your hands clean enough?

It’s the time of year when more infection bugs and viruses circulate, and keeping our hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

Dr Dal Sahota, local GP and Emergency Care lead for NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group advises:

“Washing your hands properly with soap and clean running water removes dirt, viruses and bacteria to stop them spreading to other people and objects, leading to illnesses such as food poisoning, flu, colds or tummy upsets.

“Children are never too young to be taught how to wash their hands carefully, so make it part of their daily routine.

“The NHS recommends washing your hands for around 20 seconds – or the length of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. Get your technique right by watching the NHS handwashing video:  https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/

“It’s also a good idea to avoid touching your face or mouth with your hands especially when you have a tummy upset or cold.

“No one wants to spread nasty infections to loved ones. This is especially important for those at particular risk, such as: pregnant women; elderly relatives; babies or anyone with an existing health condition such as diabetes or cancer.”

Follow these simple rules every day even if you don’t have any sign of a cold or other infection, and make sure you wash your hands:

  • after using the toilet or changing a nappy
  • before and after handling raw foods like meat and vegetables
  • before eating or handling food
  • after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing
  • before and after treating a cut or wound
  • after touching, feeding or cleaning animals
  • after manual work such as DIY or gardening
  • when you come in from work, shopping or travelling

Caroline Capell, Director of Urgent and Emergency Care for Buckinghamshire Integrated Care Partnership which brings together local health and social care services said:

“If you sneeze or cough, make sure to catch it in a paper tissue, then immediately dispose of the tissue in a bin, and wash your hands. It’s the best way to deal with germs for any cold, cough or flu-type virus or other common infection like a tummy bug. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm rather than into your hands to help stop the spread of illness.

“When travelling, if you don’t have immediate access to hot water and soap, use hand sanitiser instead. It’s useful to carry some with you when you are out and about.

“But if you are concerned about being unwell why not check your symptoms on the free app – Ask NHS, or contact 111 by phone or online www.111.nhs.uk  – it’s the quickest way to get the right health advice or the appointment you need with the local NHS.”