A recent survey found that 99% of people routinely wash their hands. But many don’t understand the scientific facts about why hand-washing really is as important as doctors say it is. Experts contend that each time we touch someone, we carry with us the bacteria that live in our mouths and gut. When we touch a contaminated surface, the germ-carrying surface kills the bacteria living in our mouths and digestive systems.
It’s like the food you eat is a kind of coded message: when you eat, you give out the code word for your secret life. By washing your hands several times a day, you kill any harmful bacteria that have lived in the areas where you’ve touched the contaminated surfaces.
Why are so many people afraid of excessive hygiene? We’re so used to germ-laden surfaces and germs in our houses that we feel embarrassed about wiping up after ourselves or touching our eyes or hands. But the scientific evidence demonstrates that if you don’t clean after yourself or others, you can be just as susceptible to disease as someone who does.
The skin carries germs and other viruses at an alarmingly rapid rate. A rash on the hands is almost always caused by a virus and therefore requires immediate medical attention. If the rash isn’t taken care of, the spread of disease can reach the rest of the body, particularly the mucous membranes and tissues that line the respiratory tract.
Despite the fact that the skin and mucous membranes are the most susceptible parts of the body to infection, in recent years scientists have discovered a lot more about the functions of these tissues and how their structure provides a protective shield against diseases. It also explains why hand-washing is so important, because the kind of disease we may be suffering from depends a lot on the part of the body we touch.
In its distant cousin, the flu, an outbreak can start as a cold. When it becomes a more serious strain, a person’s immune system is weakened and can no longer protect him or her from further exposure to the flu virus.
In fact, with flu, the severity of the disease progresses at an accelerated rate, and it usually becomes deadly before the body can develop a defense against it. With measles, it takes three to six weeks for the disease to progress. It takes ten days for chicken pox to become a full-blown epidemic.
So, what does all this mean for people who get sick but whose bodies’ immune system isn’t weakened? The reality is that, although you can get rid of the virus on your own, the faster you catch the disease, the better chance you have of surviving. That’s why many people don’t receive treatment for their infections until it’s too late.
That’s why hand-washing is so important. Hand-washing is necessary because any type of disease can be spread through the exchange of bodily fluids. Both a mother and child can transmit infectious organisms when they breastfeed.
How do you avoid transmission of disease in the first place? It’s simply to wash your hands thoroughly, with good quality antibacterial soap and warm water.
A good way to prevent spreading disease is to use public restrooms, even if it’s only a little. It’s a good idea to change clothing when you’re done with it, especially if you’re touching infected surfaces.
If you’re using public bathrooms or changing clothes in your own home, it’s best to go to a health spa or health-conscious restaurant that specializes in cleaning, because the health care industry has come a long way since the days of swimming pools and antibiotic-based hand washes. Have turned to chlorine. Not only safe but it’s practically odorless, so it doesn’t have to be changed daily.