ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — When it comes to staying germ-free one of the best things you can do is wash your hands frequently.
Dr. Colleen Fogarty, the Department Chair at Highland Family Medicine, discussed the importance of handwashing Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“The recommendation is at least 20 seconds,” Dr. Fogarty said of how long to wash your hands. “What I often hear is one verse of happy birthday or you can pick your favorite diddy that you’re going to sing in your mind. Use warm water, soap and wash every surface between the fingers, behind the fingers, the thumbs, every surface of the hands. A good rinse, a good dry and you’re good to go. Really it is basic. You’ll see that many childcare centers in schools have their kids wash their hands’ first thing in the morning.”
Make sure you’re cleaning your hands often. “Certainly anytime before we’re going to eat a meal, anytime after using the restroom or any time that you’re doing an activity where your hands might be soiled,” said Dr. Fogarty. “Nobody’s gardening now, but if you’re outside working with other kinds of substances, you need to keep those hands clean before you eat.”
Dr. Fogarty said soap and water is still the very best for reducing soil or dirt. Hand sanitizer is a great alternative if you just need to make sure your hands are germ-free or cutting down the germ load. If you’re going to have a party make sure hand sanitizers are placed throughout the home and perhaps before a buffet line.
If you have to cough, Dr. Fogarty said don’t use your hands. Cough into your arm. “Hands are our biggest transmitter of germs, hence the importance of washing. If you’re going to sneeze or cough, go for the elbow. If you have a tissue, use the tissue and obviously after using a tissue, always wash your hands.”
Also, avoid touching your face with your hands. “Eyes, nose, mouth, mucous membranes – those are entry points for germs,” noted Dr. Fogarty. “And so if we are mindful about keeping our hands away from our face and washing frequently, we can avoid the contagion of lots of different kinds of viruses and colds.”