Stop the Spread of Superbugs: Wash Your Hands

December 1-7, 2019, Somerset, NJ, Did you know that washing your hands is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others? Let’s face it, no one wants to get sick, especially those with a weakened immune system where any illness could become fatal. That is why we are helping spread the word as we celebrate National Handwashing Awareness Week. Here’s what you need to know about hand washing!

The Rise of the ‘Superbug’

Studies show that people who wash their hands have 24% less sick days because of respiratory illness, and 51% fewer sick days due to a sick stomach. Not only can handwashing prevent illnesses like a cold or the flu, it can prevent the spread of more serious infections and ‘superbugs’.

New Jersey residents should pay special attention to the importance of handwashing in light of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recent release of data regarding a superbug threat hitting the state. The superbug is a drug resistant infection called Candida auris, and it’s spreading fast. In fact, there has been a 35% increase in cases in New Jersey since April.

Candida auris is a fungal infection that can be fatal for patients with a compromised immune system. It is classified as multi-drug resistant, is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings. The good news is that there is a simple and incredibly effective way to prevent the spread of this disease, and many others: handwashing!

woman demonstrates washing hands to stay healthy and prevent spreading disease

Clean Hands Save Lives

To create awareness around the importance of handwashing, the CDC launched Life is Better with Clean Hands, a national campaign aimed at motivating adults to make handwashing a part of their daily lives. By educating the public about how germs are spread and about proper hand washing techniques, the CDC hopes to make a significant impact on the health of people around the world by reducing the spread of illnesses, harm to children around the world caused by not washing hands, and resistance to antibiotics.

Hand Hygiene for Healthcare Professionals

Close-up of a man washing his hands in a kitchen and a reminder to make handwashing a healthy habit.

Hand washing is always an important habit to maintain, but for healthcare professionals it’s imperative. As a health education school teaching future healthcare professionals, we understand the necessity of proper hand washing because it reduces the spread of potentially deadly germs to patients and the risk of infection to the healthcare provider from germs acquired from the patient. Whether you’re pursuing a career as a Dental Assistant, Medical Assistant, or a Nurse’s Aid, it’s best to create good hand washing habits now.

There are two methods for hand hygiene in a healthcare setting, using alcohol based hand sanitizer and with soap and water. Each are appropriate in certain circumstances. Visit the CDC’s Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Health Care Settings to learn more.

So What is Proper Handwashing?

You may wash your hands several times a day but are you washing them properly? Many people are unaware of how many germs may be left behind if they aren’t following proper hand washing technique. Fortunately, the CDC is here to help!

According to the CDC, proper handwashing techniques follow these five steps:

    demonstrates the steps to wash hands to prevent the spread of disease
  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold- hot water can cause hands to dry out), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Germs love to hide in hard to reach places like under nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Just remember wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry! It’s as easy as that.

What Can You Do?

We hope we’ve convinced you that washing your hands should be part of your daily routine. Ready to do more to help bring awareness to this important cause? Here’s how you can help:

  • ● From December 1-7, help us spread the word about handwashing practices and keep yourself and those around you safe and healthy.
  • ● Remember to wash your hands several times a day to stop the spread of infectious diseases and encourage others to do the same.
  • ● Use social media to spread the word using #NationalHandWashingWeek and #KeepHandsClean.

Education and awareness is the first step to a healthier society. Spread the word, not the germs. Happy hand washing!

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