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Data OilSt.

  • Writer's pictureSairam Paluri

First Line of Defense against Infections - Hand hygiene

Let's start from the very basic level to avoid or prevent many infections. Do you know the two weapons used to control the majority of the infections?

From the root level in the control of various infections, there are two things we need to know about - Hand Wash and Vaccines. So let us focus on the practice with least compliance - Hand Wash.

Before going into the topic, let us know a bit about our hands…

  • For our daily activities, among all the body parts we use our hands more than any other body part.

  • We hold many objects, do several works… each and everything requires our hands which can’t be replaced by any other body part.

Thus it says that we are exposed to the outside environment with our hands. For our protection, it is our responsibility to keep an eye on hand hygiene.

Thanks to COVID-19(No Offense). As COVID-19 is a new disease until now there’s only a basic way to keep ourselves safe ie hand wash.

This is the point where you need to understand the importance of Hand Wash - as there are no approved drugs, vaccines or treatment, it is the only saviour during this pandemic.

Thanks to COVID-19 again, this outbreak by emphasising the Hand Wash not only helping to stop the spread of this pandemic itself, but also various other bacterial and viral infections. Hoping that people should continue this and never forget the importance of Hand Wash.

History of Hand Wash

Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor is known as the Father of hand hygiene. He observed that the maternal mortality (death of a woman while pregnant or within six weeks after termination of pregnancy) in his ward was very high where the doctors used to examine the pregnants without washing their hands after conducting autopsies.

Later when he imposed the rule of examining the pregnants only after washing the hands, he observed a drastic fall of the mortality from several nearly 14% to < 2%.

This drastic fall in the deaths and the situation at present we are facing insisting us to use the hand wash made me write this article.


Whenever you feel your hands are dirty or when you are exposed to any contaminated environment, wash your hands with soap and water. Drying your hands is important as well.

In routine when you feel your hands are not dirty enough, you can use any alcohol-based formulations(sanitizer).

How to use them?

Steps to be followed while using sanitizers (as per WHO).

Steps you need to follow while washing your hands with soap and water(as per WHO).


As per WHO,

  • Before, during and after preparing the food(because it is one of the ways many people eating the food prepared by contaminated hands get infected)

  • Before eating food

  • Before and after caring for a sick person

  • After using the toilet(there are several infections which spread through faeces-Faeco oral contamination).

  • Before and after cleaning up a child(they have less immunity and are more prone to infections)

  • After blowing your nose, coughing and sneezing(respiratory infections).

  • After touching animals and animal waste(some infections spread from pets).

  • After touching the garbage.

Which is better to use?

It is better to prefer liquid soap over the soap bar. This is because, after using the soap bar, several organisms may not get washed away on the bar. However, soap and water are also prefered.

Drying of hands with a dry clean towel after washing is important as well.

I don’t insist you wash your hands each hour of the day, but wash your hands whenever needed as discussed above. And remember whenever you use your contaminated hands to touch your nose, eyes and mouth, infections can spread easily.

Here’s one thing to lower your risk. It’s simple - Wash your hands with soap before you touch your mouth, nose or eyes. It really does make a difference.


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