NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – News 8 On Call – the importance of hand washing – significant with flu season well underway.
But Dr. Geoff Nadzam, a Yale Medicine bariatric surgeon says we should really be conscious about it all year round.
He explains, “In G-I infectious, issues like diarrhea, that reduces in the general population with hand washing. And finally respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and even antibiotic resistant organisms reduce, if we wash our hands.”
How long should we wash our hands? The CDC says at least 20 seconds.
“We need to make sure the hands are completely clean, that the soap has access to all the little crevices of the hands, between the fingers, under the nails,” says Dr. Nadzam.
How should we properly wash hands?
He answers, “You are going to be washing in between all of your fingers. You really want to try to get under the nails if possible and even up to the wrist if you can. In the operating room, we are even more thorough than that but at home, while you’re in front of the sink, that’s what you ought to do.”
Why is washing with soap essential?
“If you just use water,” says Dr. Nadzam, “You are just moving the bacteria around to other parts of your hand and you’re not actually killing the bacteria. So soap is the most critical part of that process.”
How effective is antibacterial soap?
He says, “Antibacterial soaps and antibacterial hand rubs are a very effective way of killing bacteria on your hands and even the viruses that you can transmit.”
When should you hand wash?
“In a non-healthcare environment, you’re going to wash your hands before meals, after meals would be appropriate too. You want to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, before you leave that bathroom, that’s very, very important. If you’ve coughed into your hands or if you’ve dirtied your hands for any reason, you want to wash then as quickly as you can,” says Dr. Nadzam.
Why should hands be completely dry?
“You don’t want to leave areas of moisture,” he says, “That area of moisture can breathe infections. Bacteria like moist environments so you really want to dry off completely afterwards.”
What’s a common mistake?
Dr. Nadzam says touching the bathroom door handle, “What you should do, when you dry your hands, you keep that towel, open the door with the towel, throw it out as you’re heading out of the door. That’s a very common problem. That’s a very dirty handle.”
Dr. Nadzam says it’s critical to wash thoroughly because bacteria like to be under your nail beds, and between your fingers, in those creases.
Have a health question? Send it to News8oncall@wtnh.com.