Handwashing: Is a New Normal Possible?

Professional development educators and infection control specialists need to design educational programs that create a lasting behavior change when it comes to hand hygiene.

Can something as simple as handwashing prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? Today, handwashing is as important as ever. Prevention becomes essential to stopping the spread of the virus because there is no vaccine to prevent it and no treatment for anyone experiencing the illness.

Mitigation is the only tool we have at our disposal to fight this novel virus. Science has consistently proven that handwashing is the only way to prevent viral and bacterial diseases. Healthcare providers know that hand hygiene protocols reduce the rates of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), yet providers continue to miss opportunities to perform hand hygiene. COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on hand-hygiene practices if we reevaluate what outcome we want to achieve with the provision of education on hand hygiene.

Coronavirus is spread by droplets. So anytime we talk or sneeze or cough, there are droplets that come from our mouth and nose. The virus is on our face, hands from covering our sneeze by habit, or even with the use of tissues. The virus can land on surfaces. If a contaminated surface is touched then one is at risk for contracting the virus via hand contact with their face, nose, eyes, and mouth. During the COVID-19 pandemic, handwashing becomes even more important. How can healthcare providers serve as credible educators for the general population, on the critical issue of hand hygiene, when healthcare providers are not consistently practicing hand hygiene? How can we prevent the transmission of disease when we neglect to provide patients with an opportunity to properly wash their hands?

Healthcare workers now have an increased need to wash hands. Hand hygiene should be completed prior to donning and after doffing personal protective equipment. Healthcare providers are also wearing masks for the duration of their shift in healthcare facilities. Hand hygiene should be performed after adjusting their mask as well.

Healthcare workers have many reasons for not performing hand hygiene. Edmonds, et al includes some of the following reasons for not washing hands: inconvenience, I forgot, I was wearing gloves, lack of education, hands full, skin breakdown, frequent entry into room, and hand hygiene products have a strange odor or leave a film on hands.1 The reasons for lack of hand hygiene are only important if we use the noncompliance reasons to improve systems such as: promoting hand hygiene, trialing new products, or changing behaviors of healthcare providers.

What can professional development educators and infection control specialists do to encourage hand hygiene? We need to consider what outcome we would like to achieve with hand hygiene compliance.

Have professional development educators and infection control specialists consider the objective of hand hygiene education. Is the objective of hand hygiene education to increase the compliance rates of hand hygiene or is the objective of hand hygiene to prevent the transmission of disease?

If the objective of hand hygiene is to prevent the transmission of disease, then our educational content needs to be redesigned. We need to transform our education programs and campaigns. Education needs to include content related to how easily germs are spread and transmitted in the hospital environment, how healthcare employees contaminate the environment, how the environment is contaminated with social media devices, how staff contaminate themselves, how patients can contaminate their environment.

We need to create educational programs for patients, families, and visitors, as well as staff. Education can no longer be “wash in and wash out.” Professional development educators and infection control specialists need to design educational programs that create a lasting behavior change in all constituents.

The only education that should remain consistent is the procedure for washing hands. The procedure2 for handwashing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), should be adopted in all healthcare facilities. The procedure is:

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the water, and apply soap.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Twenty seconds can be measured by Singing the song “Happy Birthday” or the “ABCs” song from beginning to end twice.

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Now is the time to change our educational methods. We need to change our content. We need to get the message out that the goal of hand hygiene is to prevent the transmission of disease. We need to ask staff if they have stopped the spread of your germs today? We cannot just put the handwashing flyer reminder somewhere out there in healthcare facilities. We need to change the signage and location of the information frequently, so the message remains on the minds of the providers. The message needs to be innovative. We need to create educational interventions that promote a change in personal behavior.

A major educational deficit that remains in the healthcare system is patient hand hygiene. How often do we encourage patients to perform hand hygiene while in the healthcare facility? Do we have signage to encourage patient handwashing? Is hand sanitizer available to our nonmobile patients? Do we offer an opportunity for patients to wash their hands before and after meals? After using a bedpan or commode, has the patient been provided with access to soap and water? Is the opportunity available in your healthcare facility for a patient to perform hand hygiene after coughing or sneezing? Are patients offered a chance to wash their hands after a procedure outside their room? Is hand sanitizer or soap and water available to the patient after a physical, occupational, or speech therapy session? Have we taught patients to complete hand hygiene after touching a wound or dressing?

Now is the time to provide education to patients encouraging the patients to ask for an opportunity to wash their hands while a patient in the healthcare facility. We need to educate patients to speak up for access to hand hygiene to prevent the transmission of disease. Access to soap and water or hand sanitizer is a necessity for patients in the healthcare facility. Professional development and infection control specialists can make a difference in the health of our patients. Emphasizing patient hand hygiene can only serve to decrease the infection rates in patients and stop the transmission of disease.

Our methodology for collecting hand hygiene compliance data needs to change. We need to ask ourselves tough questions. Do we truly empower our hand hygiene observers to conduct in-the-moment education with staff? Can all employees stop the line? Do we truly create a culture of do no harm? With the increased necessity for hand hygiene, is now the time to invest in technology to measure hand hygiene compliance? Do we need to begin to measure hand hygiene compliance in the patient population?

In this time of the global pandemic, patients are afraid to return to healthcare settings for routine care, elective procedures, and even emergent life-threatening procedures. Can we convince the public to return to the healthcare system for elective or life sustaining treatment with improved hand hygiene? COVID-19 has changed the world in which we live. Can we respond with increased rigor to prevent the spread of disease? Would you feel safer as a patient or a healthcare worker if we stopped transmitting disease?

By Mary Jean Ricci, MSN, RNBC
Published July 21, 2020
https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com

Mary Jean Ricci, MSN, RN-BC, is the director of clinical education at Drexel University College of Medicine. She’s also a nursing supervisor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

References:

Edmonds, M. Landon, E. Larson, E.& Price, C. Infection prevention in hospitals: the importance of hand hygiene. Infectious Disease News. April 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for hand hygiene in healthcare settings. CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/index.html


Study: Regular Handwashing Reduces Personal Risk of Acquiring Seasonal Coronavirus Infection

In a new study looking at 1,633 participants of the England-wide Flu Watch project, a team of researchers found that moderate-frequency handwashing (6-10 times per day) was associated with a reduced overall risk of seasonal coronavirus infection.

The expanding global outbreak of COVID-19 demands an evidence-based public health response.

Seasonal human coronavirus strains (NL63, OC43, 229E, and HKU1) as well as SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, appear to be transmitted via droplets, direct and indirect contact with infected secretions and, to an unknown extent by aerosol.

Hand hygiene measures are recommended by health authorities and public health experts worldwide to interrupt these transmission mechanisms by preventing viral transfer via contact with infected people and surfaces.

While hand hygiene recommendations are acceptable in a variety of community settings worldwide and are widely recommended by health authorities, evaluation of their effects on the risk of illness in the general population is limited.

“It’s important to highlight that frequency of handwashing is only one aspect of hand hygiene,” said first author Sarah Beale, a researcher in the Public Health Data Science Research Group of the Institute of Health Informatics at University College London (UCL) and the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care.

“We also know that both longer duration of handwashing and the context of handwashing e.g. upon returning home or before eating — have been associated with lower overall risk of influenza or influenza-like-illness.”

“Good hand hygiene should be practiced at all times regardless of whether you show symptoms or not. This will help protect yourself and prevent unwittingly spreading the virus to others around you.”

For the study, Beale and colleagues used data from three successive winter cohorts (2006 to 2009) of the Flu Watch study, a national household-level prospective cohort study investigating transmission, burden and risk factors associated with influenza and other acute respiratory infections across England.

The majority of participants (almost 80%) were adults over sixteen years of age. They provided baseline estimates of hand hygiene behavior. Coronavirus infections were identified from nasal swabs using RT-PCR.

To assess overall handwashing frequency, participants were asked at baseline of each season to ‘Estimate how many times you washed your hands yesterday.’

Frequency of daily handwashing was subsequently categorized as low (≤5 times daily), moderate (6–10 times daily), or high (>10 times daily) guided by literature around influenza-like illness in Western community settings.

The outcome of interest was whether participants contracted any PCR-confirmed coronavirus infection in a season.

Detected coronavirus strains (NL63, OC43, and 229E) were combined into a binary outcome (yes/no coronavirus) as the effect of hand hygiene is believed to be consistent across these strains.

Moderate-frequency handwashing was associated with significantly reduced overall risk of contracting coronavirus (36% reduction in the risk of infection compared to those who washed their hands 0-5 times per day).

For higher intensity handwashing there was no significant dose-response effect.

“Something as simple as washing our hands regularly can help us to keep the infection rate low and reduce transmissions,” said senior author Ellen Fragaszy, a researcher in the Public Health Data Science Research Group at the UCL Institute of Health Informatics and the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“Given that COVID-19 appears to demonstrate similar transmission mechanisms to seasonal coronaviruses, these findings support clear public health messaging around the protective effects of handwashing during the pandemic,” Beale added.

The findings appear in the journal Wellcome Open Research.

Published May 25, 2020 by News Staff
http://www.sci-news.com

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Essential hand hygiene a must when handling food products

Currently, there is no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.

However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices when handling or preparing foods. You should always wash your hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and put food in the fridge as soon as you can.

Food shopping advice

• Don’t go shopping if you have COVID-19 symptoms. You can order your groceries online, or have family or friends drop them off instead.

• When you go food shopping, you should wash your hands before you leave the house, avoid touching your face when you are out, and follow social distancing.

• When you return home, you should wash your hands straight away. Wash them again once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.

• It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.

• If you are sanitising surfaces or shopping bags, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how much time is needed before wiping the sanitiser off.

• Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

Frequently asked questions

When I bring my grocery shopping into my home, could it be contaminated with the Coronavirus? What do I have to do to make sure it is safe?

While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way. However, you should always put away your shopping as soon as you get home, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer.

If I deliver food to a relative in isolation, what do I have to do it make sure it is safe?

Firstly, if you show any symptoms, you should not offer to deliver food. If you can, follow the food shopping advice above, and it might be best to leave the shopping at the door.

I have heard that sanitisers can only be used three or four times and then hands must be washed properly in hot soapy water. Is that true?

Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water is best, but hand sanitisers are a good option when you don’t have access to soap and water, such as when you are out and about.

Can I wash my hands with cold water and soap? Is that adequate?

The temperature of the water is not that significant. The most important thing is that you wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry your hands thoroughly afterwards.

I am cocooning and I am worried about the safety of the food being left at my doorstep.

Always put away food as soon as you can, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way. However you should wash your hands once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.

Should I wipe down/clean all food packaging coming into my house?

It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.

You should follow the food shopping advice above and wash your hands before and after you go food shopping, and after you unpack your shopping.

Should I wear gloves when handling food packaging when unpacking it from a shop?

Gloves would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

When out food shopping, should I wear gloves and wipe down the basket/trolley I am using?

Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands, or use hand sanitiser, and avoid touching your face.

Many shops are providing sanitiser to wipe trolley handles, as this is a high contact surface.

Published by Galway Puublisher
Thursdag 09-04-2020
https://www.advertiser.ie/galway

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New hand washing stations to help fight hygiene-related diseases

The Ministry of Health in partnership with World Vision among other stakeholders have inaugurated 49 modern hand washing facilities set up at different health facilities across the country, which are expected to help prevent Covid-19 and hygiene-related diseases.

The event took place at Masaka Hospital in Kicukiro district on Tuesday, September 1.

According to the ministry, the entire project will involve the establishment of modern hand washing stations in about 300 health facilities across the country.

Speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije said that the facilities will help prevent the Covid-19 pandemic and other hygiene-related diseases.

“We thank this partnership with World Vision and other partners who worked hard to avail these facilities. This move comes as an addition effort to the already existing measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and other hygiene-related diseases,” he said.

Among primary preventive measures against Covid-19 include regular washing of hands with clean water and soap.

Ngamije also urged people in charge of health facilities where the washing stations have been set up to take care of the established infrastructure and ensure they are always functional.

Sean Kerrigan, National Director of World Vision Rwanda also noted that the Organization is delighted to help the country in the fight against Covid-19.

He said: “We are glad to play a role in the fight against hygiene-related diseases, most especially Covid-19. We know that it is a joint responsibility for us and the government to keep both young children and adults safe. Together we shall win.”

The entire project of setting up these infrastructures, according to World Vision, has cost Rwf290 million.

By Lavie Mutanganshuro
Published 01 September 2020
https://www.newtimes.co.rw/


Frequent Hand-Washing Tough on Those With Eczema

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, but for people with skin conditions like eczema, lathering up frequently can lead to dryness, cracking, itchiness, pain and even an infection.

If you’re struggling to balance pandemic hand-washing and skin conditions, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, a dermatologist at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., offers some advice.

Regular washing is better than hand sanitizer: When you cleanse with soap and water, then immediately apply moisturizer, you can “offset much of the drying effects of hand-washing,” Silverberg said in a news release from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. He recommends carrying a pocket tube of moisturizer so you can apply it on the go.

Avoid antiseptic and antibacterial soaps: You may not need them, as long as you scrub thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds and then rinse.

Moisturize properly: After washing, pat your hands until they are mostly dry, using a paper towel or tissue. “Once mostly dry, [i.e., your skin is still a little damp] apply a generous amount of moisturizer to coat the entire surface of your hands and fingers,” Silverberg said.

Beware of gloves plus sanitizer: To avoid irritation from hand-washing, some people with skin conditions wear disposable gloves and then use sanitizer on them — an approach Silverberg does not recommend. “When we apply hand sanitizer on our bare skin, we can feel if we covered the entire surface of the hands and fingers,” he said. “But when wearing gloves, we limit the ability to feel this and might miss some spots on the gloves and then accidentally carry some germs.” It makes more sense to change gloves and/or wash or sanitize hands often, Silverberg said.

Wear gloves when cleaning: Cleaning products are especially harsh on the skin. “People should always wear gloves when using antiseptic wipes and cleaning products,” Silverberg said.

Sterilize containers: If you carry bottles of soap and moisturizer with you, clean and sterilize the containers to remove harmful germs. And remember: Moisturizer should not be applied unless hands are clean, to prevent contaminating the product.
There’s more about hand hygiene at the National Eczema Association.

By Serena McNiff, HealthDay Reporter
Aug. 21, 2020
Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


More than 800 million students worldwide lack hand washing amenities

More than 40 per cent of students worldwide – around 818 million – lack access to basic hand-washing facilities in the classroom.

But hand hygiene provision is a key requirement for the safe reopening of schools, claim the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF.

According to UN data there are currently 1.6 billion students worldwide in 190 countries, 43 per cent of whom lack access to soap or water or both. A third of these pupils live in sub-Saharan Africa and in the least developed countries, seven out of 10 schools lack basic hand-washing facilities.

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF have teamed up to issue a report setting out guidelines for the safe reopening of schools this autumn.

“Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services are essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings, including schools,” said WHO general manager Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It must be a major focus of government strategies for the safe reopening and operation of schools during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.”

The report encourages governments to balance any public health measures against the social and economic impacts of student lockdowns. And it cites substantial evidence of the negative impacts of prolonged school closures on children.

“Global school closures since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have presented an unprecedented challenge to children’s education and well-being,” said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore. “We must prioritise children’s learning and ensure that schools are safe to reopen – with access to hand hygiene, clean drinking water and safe sanitation.”

Published 24th of August 2020
http://www.europeancleaningjournal.com


Which Works Best Against Covid-19: Clean Hands Or Face Masks?

To stop the spread of Coronavirus, the public needs to carry out several physical interventions at the same time. And while the media focuses on the culture war over wearing face masks, we must not forget another intervention that science suggests may be even more important than a mask: clean hands.

Hand hygiene is central to stopping Covid-19 from spreading by contact transmission, which occurs via routes such as touching a contaminated surface and then your face. Since around 1850, when microbiologists began developing the modern germ theory of disease and doctors started washing their hands, we’ve know that practicing proper hygiene helps prevent microbes from transmitting infectious diseases from one person to another.

But while there’s plenty of research on how good hygiene blocks the spread of respiratory viruses generally, there’s relatively little knowledge of how well it works against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus specifically.

As a consequence, recommendations from authorities like the World Health Organization and Centres for Disease Control are mainly based on extrapolating from other viruses with a similar structure, especially a fatty envelope that surrounds certain viruses. That envelope is studded with the proteins used to break into cells, and the logic goes that if an intervention is effective against another ‘enveloped virus’ — influenza, say — then the same should apply to novel coronaviruses.

There are hundreds of studies on interventions that might interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses, but their results sometimes contradict each other. And when there’s no agreement, scientists will perform a systematic review and collect all the available research in order to analyse the quality of work then reach a consensus. That’s what was done in the 2010 Cochrane review, led by the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University. Based on 67 studies, the reviewers found that hand hygiene helps stop the spread of viruses, particularly around young children — probably because kids are less hygienic.

The 2010 review wasn’t conclusive, however, as it didn’t identify enough studies that compared the intervention with a control. Such experiments allow reviewers to perform a ‘meta-analysis’ that combines data from multiple trials then offer a conclusion. An as-yet unpublished update to the Cochrane review achieved just that, combining 15 trials involving both adults and children. Those trials weren’t carried out in a lab, but took place in homes, offices and classrooms — real-world settings where infections are commonly transmitted.

According to the new review, hand hygiene led to a 16% drop in the number of participants with an acute respiratory illness (ARI) and 36% relative reduction in an associated outcome: people being absent from work or school. The reviewers concluded that “the modest evidence for reducing the burden of ARIs, and related absenteeism, justifies reinforcing the standard recommendation for hand hygiene measures to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.”

Although the 2020 review confirms the intervention’s efficacy in limiting viral transmission, it’s not specific to Coronavirus. A direct link to SARS-CoV-2 is supported by one study from a Covid-19 hospital in Wuhan, China, however: from a statistical analysis of several risk factors associated with transmitting the virus, researchers found that poor hand hygiene was a major factor, raising the relative risk of infection by around 3%.

The Chinese study also revealed that the higher Covid-19 risk remained even when healthcare workers wore full personal protective equipment (PPE), which suggests that hand hygiene is more important than wearing a face mask. The 2020 review also didn’t find much added benefit to wearing a mask along with good hygiene.

Anti-maskers might interpret such findings to mean that masks are worthless, but that would be wrong because the variation in results among studies was too large to draw any strong conclusions. Masks probably do help block viral transmission, but we won’t know exactly how effective they are until we have more data.

Employing only a single intervention — such as masks or handwashing — allows an infectious disease to spread because not everyone will follow the recommended guidelines and so infected people slip through the ‘holes’ in that intervention. When multiple interventions are used simultaneously, however, it’s like stacking several slices of Swiss cheese: the more slices you add, the less likely it is that two holes will overlap and let the disease pass every intervention.

While this ‘Swiss cheese model’ has traditionally been used in medical error reduction, it’s relevant to reducing Covid-19 transmission. Regardless of the relative importance of various interventions, we should employ several strategies to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

By JV Chamary
Published


How better home hygiene could curb antibiotic resistance

Pharmacologists and infectious disease specialists say there is an urgent need to promote good hygiene in the home and in community settings. They believe that this will be essential in reducing antibiotic use and preventing the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in the coming years.

Rates of resistance to commonly used antibiotics have already reached 40–60% in some countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and are set to continue rising fast.

In OECD countries, rates of resistance could reach nearly 1 in 5 (or 18%) by 2030 for eight different bacterium-antibiotic combinations.

By 2050, about 10 million people could die each year as a result of resistance to antimicrobial agents.

While policymakers usually focus on hygiene in healthcare settings, such as hospitals, a group of pharmacology and infectious disease experts believes that improved hygiene in homes and community settings is just as important.

The scientists have published a position paper in the American Journal of Infection Control on behalf of the Global Hygiene Council.

“Although global and national [antimicrobial resistance] action plans are in place,” they write, “infection prevention and control is primarily discussed in the context of healthcare facilities with home and everyday life settings barely addressed.”

They have also launched a manifesto that calls on health policymakers to recognize the importance of this topic.

‘More urgent than ever’

Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing, can help reduce infections and antibiotic use, the authors argue. In turn, this will minimize the development of resistance.

“In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and evidence presented in this paper, it is more urgent than ever for policymakers to recognize the role of community hygiene to minimize the spread of infections, which, in turn, will help in reducing the consumption of antibiotics and help the fight against [antimicrobial resistance],” says lead author Prof. Jean-Yves Maillard from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that 35% of common infections are already resistant to currently available medicines, with this figure rising to 80–90% in some low and middle income countries.

Overuse of the drugs accelerates the development of resistance. In the United States, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that of the 80–90% of antibiotic use that occurs outside hospitals, about half is inappropriate or unnecessary.

The authors point out that while the majority of bacteria that are multidrug-resistant (resistant to at least one agent in three or more antimicrobial classes) get picked up in hospitals, some have become prevalent in the community.

Patients leaving the hospital can carry methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on their skin, for example, or resistant strains of enterobacteria in their gut. Resistant bacteria can then pass to other family members.

The authors write:

“Although the precise impact of hygiene on transmission of infection between community and healthcare settings needs further investigation, it is important to recognize that reducing the need for antibiotic prescribing and the circulation of [antimicrobial-resistant] strains in healthcare settings cannot be achieved without also reducing circulation of infections and [resistant] strains in the community. We cannot allow hygiene in home and everyday life settings to become the weak link in the chain.”

Hand washing is a crucial measure

They argue that better hand hygiene would prevent many infections in the home and in community settings, such as schools, nurseries, and workplaces.

Only about 19% of people wash their hands after using the toilet, according to a review of research that the paper cites. The same review found that hand washing reduces the risk of diarrhea by nearly one-quarter (23%) in studies with good methodological design.

Educating people to wash their hands with ordinary soap is one of the best ways to reduce infections, according to experts. Overall, research has shown that improvements in hand hygiene lead to a 21% reduction in respiratory illnesses and a 31% reduction in gastrointestinal illnesses.

In addition, the position paper highlights the problem of foodborne pathogens, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli. These affect millions of people globally every year, causing diarrhea and other debilitating symptoms.

A 2014 study in Mexico found Salmonella in almost all cleaning cloths. Soaking these dish clothes in a 2% solution of bleach twice a day reduced the bacteria by 98%.

Key risks and strategies

The authors identify key risk moments for transmitting infections in the home. These are:

food handling, including contaminated chopping boards and kitchen sponges
using the toilet
changing a baby’s diaper
coughing, sneezing, and nose blowing
touching surfaces that others frequently touch
handling and laundering clothing and household linen
caring for domestic animals
disposing of refuse
caring for an infected family member

As key strategies to combat infection in the home, they recommend:

soap or detergent-based cleaning together with adequate rinsing
alcohol-based hand sanitizer
inactivation or eradication using a disinfectant on hard surfaces
mechanical removal using dry wiping
heating to at least 60°C (140°F)
UV treatment
a combination of the above

However, they note that further research is necessary to evaluate the extent to which these practices might contribute to preventing the transmission of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.

By James Kingsland on May 25, 2020
Published at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com


Study: Regular Handwashing Reduces Personal Risk of Acquiring Seasonal Coronavirus Infection

In a new study looking at 1,633 participants of the England-wide Flu Watch project, a team of researchers found that moderate-frequency handwashing (6-10 times per day) was associated with a reduced overall risk of seasonal coronavirus infection.

The expanding global outbreak of COVID-19 demands an evidence-based public health response.

Seasonal human coronavirus strains (NL63, OC43, 229E, and HKU1) as well as SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, appear to be transmitted via droplets, direct and indirect contact with infected secretions and, to an unknown extent by aerosol.

Hand hygiene measures are recommended by health authorities and public health experts worldwide to interrupt these transmission mechanisms by preventing viral transfer via contact with infected people and surfaces.

While hand hygiene recommendations are acceptable in a variety of community settings worldwide and are widely recommended by health authorities, evaluation of their effects on the risk of illness in the general population is limited.

“It’s important to highlight that frequency of handwashing is only one aspect of hand hygiene,” said first author Sarah Beale, a researcher in the Public Health Data Science Research Group of the Institute of Health Informatics at University College London (UCL) and the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care.

“We also know that both longer duration of handwashing and the context of handwashing e.g. upon returning home or before eating — have been associated with lower overall risk of influenza or influenza-like-illness.”

“Good hand hygiene should be practiced at all times regardless of whether you show symptoms or not. This will help protect yourself and prevent unwittingly spreading the virus to others around you.”

For the study, Beale and colleagues used data from three successive winter cohorts (2006 to 2009) of the Flu Watch study, a national household-level prospective cohort study investigating transmission, burden and risk factors associated with influenza and other acute respiratory infections across England.

The majority of participants (almost 80%) were adults over sixteen years of age. They provided baseline estimates of hand hygiene behavior. Coronavirus infections were identified from nasal swabs using RT-PCR.

To assess overall handwashing frequency, participants were asked at baseline of each season to ‘Estimate how many times you washed your hands yesterday.’

Frequency of daily handwashing was subsequently categorized as low (≤5 times daily), moderate (6–10 times daily), or high (>10 times daily) guided by literature around influenza-like illness in Western community settings.

The outcome of interest was whether participants contracted any PCR-confirmed coronavirus infection in a season.

Detected coronavirus strains (NL63, OC43, and 229E) were combined into a binary outcome (yes/no coronavirus) as the effect of hand hygiene is believed to be consistent across these strains.

Moderate-frequency handwashing was associated with significantly reduced overall risk of contracting coronavirus (36% reduction in the risk of infection compared to those who washed their hands 0-5 times per day).

For higher intensity handwashing there was no significant dose-response effect.

“Something as simple as washing our hands regularly can help us to keep the infection rate low and reduce transmissions,” said senior author Ellen Fragaszy, a researcher in the Public Health Data Science Research Group at the UCL Institute of Health Informatics and the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“Given that COVID-19 appears to demonstrate similar transmission mechanisms to seasonal coronaviruses, these findings support clear public health messaging around the protective effects of handwashing during the pandemic,” Beale added.

The findings appear in the journal Wellcome Open Research.

Published May 25, 2020 by News Staff / Source
http://www.sci-news.com


COVID-19 Hand Hygiene and Dry Skin: 3 Tips for Reducing the Risk of Dry and Cracked Hands

We have been regularly washing our hands for over 20 seconds (while humming the “Happy Birthday” song!) for months now. When there are no handwashing facilities, we have been rubbing our hands with dollops of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to keep them virus-free.

A rather unpleasant complexity of these regular vigorous hand washing and sanitizing is that they tend to make our hands excessively dry and irritated. This is due to the high percentages of alcohol in hand sanitizers and the soaps stripping off the natural oils in our skin. Dry skin in hands should not be ignored since it can lead to irritations and breakage of skin.

This should not mean you should cut back on hand hygiene! One of the easiest ways to prevent dry hands is to use a moisturizer or a hand sanitizer with moisturizing agents. Puracy’s Alcohol-Based Gel Hand Sanitizer keeps your hands germ-free, and its gel consistency with moisturizing agents help keep your skin well hydrated and smooth, preventing dry and cracked hands.
Get Your Puracy’s Citrus and Sea Salt Gel Hand Sanitizer Here!

Important: Even if your hands feel dry, it’s extremely important to keep washing your hands regularly to protect yourself and others against COVID-19. You can regain the skin’s moisture barrier by following the tips below.

1. Use Lukewarm Water To Wash Hands

Washing your hands with lukewarm water is more effective in two ways. The heat helps easily break down any oils and dirt along with any infected respiratory droplets that you may have touched. Lukewarm water helps properly break down the soap for its maximum efficacy, and wash off completely without leaving any traces that can cause dry skin.

2. Use an Occlusive Moisturizer Immediately After Washing Hands

Occlusive agents in moisturizers such as waxes, oils, silicones, and petrolatum increase the overall moisture of your skin by providing a physical barrier to your epidermal water loss. Once you finish washing your hands, pat them dry, and immediately use an occlusive moisturizer to lock in the moisture. Keep a bottle of moisturizer in your bag and nearby your regular sink to help you remember to moisturize each time you wash your hands.

3. Use a Fragrance-Free, Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer

While a whiff of fragrance may be pleasant when you use your hand sanitizer, the aromatic chemicals used to create a fragrance in sanitizing products can further dry and irritate your skin. Especially since you are using sanitizer regularly these days, even the smallest amounts of added chemicals can cause damage eventually.

CDC recommends using hand sanitizers with 60-95% alcohol. While this ensures maximum protection for you, it can also be quite drying. Therefore, look for a hydrating or moisturizing component in your hand sanitizer to reduce dryness. ArtNaturals scent-free hand sanitizer comes with 62.5% alcohol content, and it’s infused with botanical extracts including aloe, jojoba and vitamin E to nourish and protect your skin from damage.

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By Newsweek AMPLIFY

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