I can still hear my mother’s voice as I ran out of the bathroom: “Have you washed your hands?!” Hand washing after using the bathroom and before eating was imperative in my household growing up. I noted with interest that we celebrated the fifth annual global hand washing day on October 15th. Epidemiologists and other health experts note that it is particularly important for children to wash their hands, just as my mother used to insist. Diarrheal illness and pneumonia are the two most common killers of children around the world, and these diseases often infect their victims via unwashed hands. Experts estimate that 2.2 MILLION children under age 5 years die annually from either diarrhea or respiratory illness. They think that a third of diarrhea deaths and a sixth of pneumonia deaths could be avoided by hand washing.
Proper hand washing is something every child needs to learn. Fortunately, here in the United States our drinking water is generally clean, so washing with it is beneficial. Proper hand washing requires at least 20 seconds of washing with soap and clean water, followed by drying with a clean towel. Hand sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol are an acceptable substitute when soap and water are not available. The following is the list of times the Center for Disease Control urges hand washing:
1. before, during, and after preparing food;
2. before eating food;
3. before and after caring for someone who is sick;
4. before and after treating a cut or wound;
5. after using the toilet;
6. after changing diapers or cleaning a child who has used the toilet;
7. after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;
8. after touching an animal or animal waste;
9. after handling pet food or pet treats; and
10. after touching garbage.
Modern medicine provides powerful medicines and treatments, but I am convinced that soap and water are almost as powerful. Remember my DocSmo pearl “Prevention trumps treatment:” preventing a disease is more powerful that treating a disease once it occurs. Soap and water prevent disease. Hey, Mom, you were right after all! Thanks. Your comments are welcome at www.docsmo.com. Check out other articles and podcasts when you are there. Until next time.