Hand hygiene can’t be a forgotten practice

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Dr. Sunil Havannavar

National, 27 May 2021: The importance of hand sanitization is even more stressed after the surge of Covid 19. Having faced two lethal waves of the pandemic, Covid 19 has forced us to follow the hand hygiene practices diligently. From doctors to media, everyone is underlining the need to follow the hand hygiene routine to fight this pandemic. Yet, few are taking the message lightly ignoring the fact that hand hygiene is the first step one can follow to keep the infection at bay.

When Should You Sanitize/Wash Your Hands?

  • Wash your hands immediately when you enter the house from outdoors
  • Before touching your mouth, eyes or nose
  • When your hands are dirty
  • After using the washroom or other public spaces
  • Before and during handling food/ medication
  • After taking care of a sick person or pet
  • After blowing your nose or sneezing

Although, washing hands restricts the spread of infection, merely just pouring water on the hands does not fulfil the need. There are following techniques to abide by:

  •  Wet your hand with clean running water
  •  Lather it well with soap
  • Wash your hand vigorously for 2 minutes. Make sure you wash wrist, spaces between fingers, and under your fingernails.
  •  Rinse well with clean running water
  • Dry your hand with a clean towel
  •  Close the tap with the help of the elbow

While it is important to wash hands with water and soap, you can also use sanitizers when you do not have access to water. It is important to sanitize your hands after you touch surfaces like railings, lift buttons, door knobs as these are the most common places from which one can get infected. Sanitising your hands immediately will help in avoiding this spread of infection.  One should ensure that the below-mentioned criteria are being satisfied while using hand sanitiser:

  • Ensure the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol. Concentration below a prescribed amount will be ineffective in eradicating germs.
  • The correct direction of using hand sanitiser is to dab enough amount- coin size in your palm. Then rub it thoroughly over both hands until it dries up.

For a certain extent, the pandemic has educated and enhanced the popularity of hand sanitization which should have been done long before the rise of this deadly virus. It is not only Covid 19, numerous transmissible diseases can be avoided by following a hand hygiene routine.


Norovirus is one of the most and easily transmitted diseases. Its single component is enough to get you sick or spread in the community. Sticking to the basic- hand washing or sanitizing routine can impair the chance of catching it. Always wash your hand after using the restroom, touching your mouth, and before eating.

Respiratory illness – Respiratory illnesses are usually spread via droplets and when a person touches the droplets and forgets to wash his hands, he can also develop the infection. Common respiratory illnesses caused by poor hand hygiene include the common cold, influenza, chicken pox and meningitis.

Hepatitis A – Hepatitis A is a viral infection which can cause severe symptoms including problems with the liver, jaundice, abdominal pain, fever and fatigue. It’s often spread via food which has been contaminated.

It is vital to understand that hand hygiene measures alone will not aid in the battle against any virus. You also have to take other preventive measures and protocols such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and boosting your immunity to curb this infection.

By Dr. Sunil Havannavar – Senior Consultant Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Sarjapur Road (A unit of Manipal Hospitals)