Bacteria and viruses that make people sick can be passed on our hands. Hand washing is the single best way to reduce the spread of infection (particularly important when your a cancer patient or in direct contact with a patient!). Many “super bugs” can live on surfaces such as toilets, countertops, doors, and walls for many hours so it is important to wash your hands often.
Although it may sound nit-picky, bacteria can live on your hands through washing, pay particular attention to make sure you’re washing your hands correctly.
- Wet your hands under warm running water.
- Put soap on your wet hands.
- Rub soap all over the front and back of your hands and between your fingers for about 30 seconds. This is about the length of time it takes to sing a verse of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”
- Rinse your hands well under warm running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel.
- Turn off taps with the paper towel.
- Use hand lotion to prevent redness and chapping.
- If necessary, clean under nails.
I visit the hospital every two weeks for checkups after having my stem cell transplant. I have learned that it is a great idea to keep your hands sanitized as much as possible: before you enter the hospital, while you are there, and after you leave. This is true for anyone who is visiting the hospital for any reason, whether it be for a short checkup, a long stay, or to visit a friend.
When I am in a hospital for any reason, I use hand sanitizer to clean my hands when I first arrive to kill any germs that I may be bringing in.
I also keep my hands as clean as possible while I am there. It’s hard not to touch any surfaces when you are waiting in a hospital! Armrests, magazines, and counter tops may all contain germs. While I am there, I make a conscious effort not to touch my face at all–especially my nose, eyes, or mouth area–unless I have just washed and disinfected my hands using hand sanitizer (I keep a tiny bottle in my purse at all times!). If I need to eat while I am there, I wash my hands immediately before eating. If I use the washroom while I am there, I wash my hands after I use the washroom, and use a paper towel to turn off the tap. I also use clean paper towel to open the washroom door and let myself out. Once outside the washroom, I use hand sanitizer as an extra insurance that I am germ-free!
This may sound excessive to some, but with the “super bugs” and germs that lurk in hospitals these days these practices may prevent an unwanted sickness. This is true for healthy people, but especially for those of us with compromised immune systems. This information also applies when you visit grocery stores, shopping malls, or any other public place.