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Why Hand Hygiene is Important for Good Health

Modern life means that we feel safe most of the time. If we get a cut, a minor burn or even a broken limb, it’s seen as an inconvenience rather than a life-threatening injury. Most of this complacency is down to modern medicine and, in particular, antibiotics.

Handwashing should become our first line of defence again

Antibiotics are one of humanity’s greatest inventions; they’ve saved millions of people from suffering and death since they were introduced in the 1940s. We have, however, become too reliant on them and so to help prevent a health crisis we should return to the good old-fashioned practice of washing our hands more often.

Our hands touch everything

Our hands are a wonder of evolution, what with opposable thumbs and all, but they get into everything! Think about the things your hands do and touch every day (without going into too much detail) and then think about the times you haven’t washed them afterwards. You may have simply used sanitising gel, which doesn’t remove bacteria but just kills them, and thought this is OK. You are, however, contributing to the rise of bactericidal and antibiotic-resistant superbugs. A few of those pesky bacteria will survive each gelling due to some minor genetic difference and will come back stronger. The only answer is to go back to soap and water and good hand-washing practices.

Why soap and water?

Quite simply, soap and water work best because rather than killing bacteria through some fancy molecular mechanism that can be “outrun” by evolution, hand washing just removes them (this is why it’s important to rinse). Your hands are clean and you haven’t given the bugs any reason to start trying to outsmart your hygiene practices.

Your hands are your connection to the world

This is why it’s important that they’re clean. You prepare food with your hands, you hug people, you stroke pets and give massages or medical treatments with them. While people are amazing, they also harbour bugs so it’s vital that your hands don’t act as a vector for these critters and the illnesses they can cause. Reach out and touch people by all means, but only with clean hands!

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