It’s a scary fact that most people don’t wash their hands properly. In fact, according to a 2013 study at Michigan State University, approximately 95% of study participants failed in the endeavor. Some simply didn’t wash long enough to kill viruses, germs and bacteria, while others didn’t use soap… or didn’t wash at all. Yikes!
Proper handwashing is essential to reducing the risk of communicable diseases, particularly in this time of coronavirus. If you wear contact lenses, it’s even more important: Insertion, removal and cleaning of contact lenses puts your hands in contact with either the mucus membranes in your eyes or the lenses that will eventually go onto your eyes.
To reduce your risks of contracting viruses and infections through the eyes, be diligent about washing your hands before and after removing and inserting contacts lenses, before and after cleaning your lenses. You should also plan to wash up before and after: meals or food prep, petting or feeding pets, using the restroom and any time your hands are visibly dirty.
Don’t take shortcuts on the washing either! The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests following these steps to thoroughly eradicate germs:
It takes at least 20 seconds to get hands completely clean. (If you don’t want to count it out, just sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” which times out to about 20 seconds.) Follow this procedure for squeaky-clean digits:
- Wet your hands. Run comfortably warm water for washing. DO NOT USE SCALDING WATER. Water that is too hot won’t get you any more clean, and it could cause burns.
- Apply soap. There should be enough soap to clean the front and back of your hands, as well as the wrists.
- Rub your palms together.
- Rub each palm over the back of the opposite hand.
- Wash between fingers by interlacing the fingers and sliding them against each other.
- “Scratch” the palms of your hands with your fingernails to coax dirt from under the nails.
- Clean your thumbs. Gently grip each thumb like a handlebar in the opposite hand and twist to scrub off dirt.
- Finish by washing the wrists.
- Rinse. If necessary, use your elbow to turn off the water, then dry your hands with a clean cloth.
You may not always be in a situation where a sink, soap and running water is available, so keep hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol on hand at all times. Apply it liberally and follow the same motions as handwashing until all the sanitizer has evaporated. With these techniques and tips, you increase your chances of staying healthy this flu season.
Matossian Eye Associates is happy to help our patients maintain and improve their eyesight. We encourage you to visit our online scheduler to reserve an appointment with one of our doctors: MatossianEye.com.