A Key Factor to Help Stay Healthy
Cleaning your hands correctly during COVID-19 and beyond is essential for everyone’s health and well-being. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), everyone should regularly and thoroughly clean their hands with with soap and water, or if that is not available, an alcohol-based hand rub. Importantly, this kills viruses that may be on your hands and helps protect against infection. In consideration of the number of shared surfaces that we touch on a daily basis, our hands although not visibly dirty, can still be contaminated. As stated by Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE), if hand hygiene is done properly it can be over 90% effective in preventing the spread of harmful germs. A large number of people are unaware that they are not washing their hands correctly and are missing some key surfaces.
Areas Most Commonly Missed
SureWash Training Data Figures
The importance of performing hand hygiene correctly has been identified in numerous studies, specifically in the healthcare setting. When comparing the WHO 6-step technique to the CDC 3-step, findings identify that the WHO technique is superior in ensuring hands are cleaned thoroughly. Research has revealed that only 15% of participants that performed the 3-step technique covered all areas of their hands. (1) Another study conveyed that the thumbs and fingertips are the most commonly missed areas. (2) The SureWash training data also displays similar results as seen in the image above; thumbs and fingertips having the lowest pose scores. Subsequently, if you cannot memorise and practice the WHO technique when using either soap and water or alcohol based hand rub, you cannot be confident that all surfaces are free from germs. Cleaning your hands correctly during COVID-19 is imperative not only for your own safety, but for those around you.
Touching Your Face becomes a Habit
When you think about it, you generally touch your face subconsciously throughout the day and most commonly with your fingertips. Studies identify that the average human touches their face around 23 times per hour. (3) This figure is worrying when we think about the areas of our hands that are most missed and what we have touched. We share many common surfaces and spread germs easily from one person to the next. The chance of infection substantially increases if we are touching our faces with contaminated hands. Hand hygiene is a simple and effective way to reduce the chances of infection, however, so many people are not cleaning their hands correctly.
If You’re Going to Do it, Do it Right
Technique matters – If you are going to clean your hands, you should follow the WHO 6 poses. The 6-step technique is not only important in the healthcare sector, but also in your everyday life. What’s the point in cleaning your hands if you’re not going to do it properly? The key prevention against many respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 is hand hygiene. However, you must ensure all surfaces are clean to maximise protection. Memorising the 6-step technique is not easy, but it is achievable with practice over time. You will be learning a life-long skill, just like tying your shoelace. The SureWash Hand Hygiene App will help you on this journey, teaching you the 6 steps to build muscle memory.
- Reilly et. al (2016) ‘A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial of 6-step vs 3-step Hand Hygiene Technique in Acute Hospital Care in the United Kingdom’, Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27050843
- Škodová et al. (2015) ‘Hand Hygiene Assessment in the Workplace using a UV Lamp’, Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0196655315007543
- Kwok et. al (2015) ‘Face Touching: A Frequent Habit that has Implications for Hand Hygiene’, Available at: https://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553(14)01281-4/fulltext