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Good hand hygiene promotes good health

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Ashley Spalding, A.P.R.N.

As the winter season begins, individuals will be exposed more often to the germs that cause colds or the flu.  It is always better to prevent an illness than to deal with its symptoms and possibly spread it to someone else.  The single most effective way to prevent the spread of dangerous germs is by following good hand hygiene.

Individuals should wash their hands often, especially during the winter months, and always at the following times:

· Before, during and after preparing food

· Before eating and after using the bathroom

· After handling animals or animal waste

· When hands are dirty and more frequently when someone in the home is sick
 
You can also help to prevent the spread of germs by not coughing or sneezing into your hands.  Instead, try to get in the habit of using a tissue or the bend of your elbow to catch the germs from a cough or sneeze.  You should also avoid putting your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.

The most effective hand-washing technique is to use warm water and soap, rubbing hands together for at least 15 seconds … enough time to sing the alphabet song.  Your hands should then be rinsed well and dried.
In situations where soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand gel may be used for cleaning your hands unless they are visibly soiled.

Ashley Spalding is an advanced practice registered nurse who practices at Ephraim McDowell Springfield Family Medical Center.  She can be contacted at (859)336-9801.