Happy National Handwashing Month 

December is National Handwashing Month. And while handwashing has always been an important part of hygiene, in the wake of COVID-19, the practice has become more critical still. As a result, we would like to devote this blog post to the habit, in the interest of good overall health. 

Pandemic Handwashing

During the pandemic, we learned that everyone should wash their hands while singing, “Happy Birthday.” A good reminder to wash for a good 20 seconds, the prompt has been embraced by people around the world. With record number of Coronavirus cases, and the Omicron variant making headlines, it’s never been so important to wash your hands thoroughly and repeatedly. After all, studies show that 80 percent of communicable diseases are believed to be transmitted by human hands.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends the following reasons to wash hands: 

  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After changing diapers or cleaning a small child who has used the restroom. 
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage
  • After using the toilet
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after dining
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • Before, during, and after food prep

Specific to COVID-19, wash your hands under these circumstances: 

To eliminate the spread of germs during COVID-19 pandemic, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean hands 

Before & After:

  • Touching eyes, nose, or mouth. (In fact, COVID-19 guidelines assert you should stop touching your face altogether. The primary route of infection by viruses like COVID or any other microbial germs is through the mucous membranes on your face. The route of infection is via an area of your face called the T Zone, including your eyes, nose, and mouth.)
  • Touching your mask
  • Entering and leaving a public place
  • Touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens

How to Wash Your Hands

  1. Wet hands with clean, running water. (The water can be warm or cold.) Turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather hands with soap by rubbing them together. Don’t forget to lather the backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails.
  3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end 2 times.
  4. Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

When Soap & Water are Unavailable

The best way to rid your hands of germs is to use soap and water. However, if soap and water are not readily available:

  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Make sure the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the label.
  • Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However, sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • If hands are visibly dirty or greasy, hand sanitizers do not suffice. 
  • Hand sanitizers do not remove harmful chemicals from hands such as pesticides and heavy metals.

How to Use Hand Sanitizer

  • Apply a gel product to the palm of one hand. (Read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub hands together.
  • Rub gel over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. (This should take about 20 seconds.)

About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California

Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.