Are you adequately protecting yourself from COVID-19? Because it has never been seen in humans before, we are still learning the effects of this condition caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2 and how to treat it, but there’s a lot we have come to know in a very short amount of time.
New treatments are being discovered and we are hopeful that the vaccines that have been released and additional ones to come will help tamp down the virus. The most effective way to combat this potentially dangerous illness is by prevention. Social distancing, wearing masks, and washing your hands are very important recommendations that will not only help reduce the spread during this pandemic but will also help you protect yourself and your family.
Social distancing means keeping at least 6 feet away from people outside of your household, especially indoors. Wearing a face covering will help prevent the spread of the virus from you to others and vice versa. Handwashing has been the mainstay of preventing the spread of infection in the healthcare environment for decades. It is an extremely important tool in preventing the transmission of infectious organisms from person to person. In light of this, it is essential that we all know how to wash our hands effectively.
Don’t let these 5 mistakes sabotage your efforts.
- Don’t Miss an Opportunity
Imagine if you had invisible ink on your hands and then used a black light at the end of the day to see what you’ve touched. Your home, your clothes, and skin would light up. This is the vision you should keep in your mind when you’re making handwashing the habit it needs to be. When your hand touches something that is in a public area, it’s time to wash. After you’ve touched something, your safest assumption is that something on your hands could make you sick. If you don’t wash and make the mistake of touching your face, particularly your mouth, nose, or eyes, you may give the virus the opportunity of infecting you.
Most people already wash their hands after using the bathroom or before eating. We have some good habits ingrained in us. But, to control the spread of illness, we all need to be more vigilant. Frequent handwashing has been the culture of healthcare workers for years, and this simple act has been shown to greatly reduce the spread of infection. Make handwashing a frequent habit and you’ll protect yourself and others from more than just COVID-19.
- Don’t Miss a Step
Basic hygiene calls for washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer. However, washing your hands adequately for the prevention of the spread of infection, and in this case specifically COVID-19, is a step-by-step procedure. When using soap, wet your hands first, apply soap on your palm and spread it to the entire surface of both hands. This will require you to make a variety of movements to access every inch of your hands, fingers, and nails. Finally, rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean, unused towel—preferably a single-use napkin or paper towel. Practice this technique frequently, and it will become second nature.
- Slow Down!
You can do everything right, but if you don’t take your time your handwashing will be in vain. Every time you wash your hands, it should take you 20 seconds from the time you start rubbing until you rinse. One suggested way to keep track is to sing something that takes 20 seconds. For example, you could sing the ABC song once or the Happy Birthday song twice (preferably in your head!). If these don’t appeal to you, find a song or a chorus that takes 20 seconds, and use your time wisely to prevent spreading or catching an illness.
- Don’t Forget Your Parent’s Advice: Clean Under Your Nails
Long, painted nails may be fashionable but they are also a good place for infection-causing organisms to hide. Healthcare workers are advised to keep their nails short, clean, and without false nails (gel, acrylic, etc.) or nail polish or, at the very least, to wear gloves. Even if you are not in the healthcare field, be sure to pay attention to the front and back of your nails each time you wash. This is just one more way that you can protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses.
- Don’t Waste Your Time
When you are taking the time to wash your hands, be sure that you are using an effective cleaner. Plain soap is good, antimicrobial soap is better, and an alcohol-based hand rub is the most effective against viruses and bacteria (unless your hands are visibly soiled, in which case soap and water are best).
If you have any questions about the prevention of COVID-19 or any other infectious disease such as the flu, please give us a call. Dr. Adam Possner is a board-certified internal medicine doctor who can offer advice on these and any other concerns you have about your health. For questions or to schedule an appointment, contact our friendly staff at the medical office of Adam Possner, M.D., today. We look forward to hearing from you!