Health and Disease

Best Way to Keep Healthy All Winter Long


Keep Healthy all Winter Long!

Adults bring their fingers to their faces about 16 times per hour, says Chuck Gerba PhD and professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.  His studies have found that as many as 80 percent of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch.  That makes hand-washing incredibly important, especially during sick season.  In fact, according to Gerba,  “Hand washing is the most effective way to reduce your risk of colds and diarrhea, usually by 90 to 50 percent.”

But researchers have been debating the best hand washing techniques for years.  Are sanitizers a good idea?   Should you dry with a paper towel or a hand dryer.  Here are the study-proven techniques and approaches that will guarantee peak protection all winter long.

Soap or Sanitizer?


Bottles of hand sanitizers are everywhere these days, but soap and water may be your best bet when it comes to fighting viruses.  In a recent study conducted in a health-care setting, hand sanitizers were linked to a greater risk of noroviruses, a highly infectious virus that causes diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain.  In the study, 53 percent of facilities using sanitizers had confirmed outbreaks while only 18 percent of those using soap and water did.  The reason?  Noroviruses are somewhat more resistant to drying, which is how hand sanitizers work.  Hand sanitizers don’t remove dirt as well as soap does.  Dirt is Germs!

To send germs packing, run your hands under warm water and scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds, then dry thoroughly.

Rings on – or – off?


Many women tend to take off their rings before washing their hands, thinking they will get their skin cleaner that way.  But this strategy can backfire, particularly if the ring is places on a counter in a public bathroom.

Hard surfaces, especially stainless steel, can transmit microbes that cause illnesses. Putting your ring back onto a clean finger can deposit the bugs back onto your skin.  Dr. Robart says “I recommend leaving the rings on and moving them slightly to get underneath them when washing.”

It is important to scrub diamond rings especially well, a recent study in the International Journal of Oral Science found that stone settings harbored more germs than simple metal bands.

Paper towels -or- air dry?

If you have a choice between drying with hot air or paper towel, go for the towel.  The physical act of drying your hands with a paper towel removes a significant number of germs that remain after washing.

Public bathroom providers prefer air dryers because there is less mess.  But as a user, towels are better.   Also, I would recommend that you use a towel to open the bathroom door especially on the way out, protecting you from the last few users who did not wash properly.

If a public bathroom offers only air dryers, rub your hands under the dryer vigorously until they feel completely dry, then use a few pieces of toilet paper or Kleenex to grab the door on the way out with.

I wrote about this before, do you remember if children should use hand sanitizers or not?

Health and Wellness Associates