National Handwashing Awareness Week

A wide variety of viral illnesses, including respiratory, diarrheal, and gastrointestinal diseases, frequently spread through direct contact via the hands. People use their hands to touch a multitude of surfaces countless times throughout each day, allowing germs to spread easily.

Regular handwashing offers the simplest solution to reducing your risk of illness and restricting the spread of germs among your friends, family, and community. Handwashing with soap removes germs effectively, preventing a substantial percentage of respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses when done correctly. Less people getting sick also reduces the need for antibiotics in many cases, reducing viruses’ resistance to these medications.

Washing your hands is typically most effective at key moments, such as after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, or immediately after you’ve touched a point of infection such as food (cooked or raw), garbage, physical wounds, mucus, or a sick person. You should never touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or food without washing your hands with soap first.

Handwashing is most effective as a preventative measure against disease when it’s performed correctly. You should lather the front and back of your hands, as well as between the fingers and under the nails, using soap and water, scrubbing them for 20 seconds before rinsing and drying them with a tower or air dryer.

Although hand sanitizer can also effectively remove many germs and is acceptable when handwashing is not possible, it does not remove as many germs or chemicals from your hands as washing with soap and water, and is therefore not ideal. When you use sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.

If you’re sick with a viral infection, you can schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling (718) 206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.