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In this lesson, you’re going to learn the definition of hygiene, why hand hygiene is important, and step-by-step instructions on how to properly wash your hands.

What Is Hygiene?

We hear of the word hygiene all of the time, but do you know what hygiene actually is? Hygiene is quite simply the science of health. And, hand hygiene is one of the most important, if not the most important, aspect of controlling and preventing the transmission of infection. Since it’s that important, let’s go over some important points about hand hygiene, including how to properly wash your hands in a step-by-step manner.

When and Why

In a bit more detail with respect to what I just mentioned, why do we bother with proper hand hygiene? It’s because the first line of defense we have against infection is the skin. By keeping the skin healthy and free from potentially pathogenic, or disease-causing, substances and organisms, we also serve to protect the rest of our body.

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If the skin is dirty, it might get infected, and that infection puts a strain on the body. Worst of all, that infection can spread throughout the body, especially if the person is suffering from an already debilitating condition. If the skin is full of pathogens and we touch our mouth or eyes, they can get infected, too. This can cause problems such as the stomach flu.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a nurse in a hospital or simply coming home from a day at work, proper hand hygiene is always important for your safety or for that of your patients. And, it’s important you follow the steps I’m about to go over in full. This is because inadequate handwashing can actually just spread germs around without killing them or washing them off.

How to Wash Your Hands

So, how do you wash your hands properly then? Let’s go over the appropriate steps right now.

  1. Turn on the faucet and simply wet your hands with some water.

  2. Squeeze enough soap into the palm of one of your hands. Enough means it will be able to cover both of your hands in their entirety as you proceed with the following steps.
  3. Rub your hands palm to palm.
  4. Rub your right palm over the surface of the back of your left hand as you interlace your fingers. Do the same with your left hand over your right.

  5. Rub your hands palm to palm again, while interlacing your fingers at the same time.
  6. Interlock your hands in the manner you see on the screen so that the palms of your hands can rub the back of the fingers of the opposite hand.
  7. Grasp your left thumb with your right hand and rub it in a rotational manner as if you’re revving the throttle on a motorcycle. Do the same with the other thumb using your left hand.
  8. Use the fingers of one hand to rub the surface of the palm of the other hand and vice versa.

  9. Rinse your hands with water, dry them with a single use towel, and use the towel to turn off the water.

All of this should take you about 40-60 seconds – far longer than most of us wash our hands after going to the public bathroom, no?

Lesson Summary

That’s a lot of steps, right? But think about this, that pales in comparison to the number of steps you’d have to take to treat an infectious process in your body that resulted from poor hand hygiene, or poor hand washing techniques, in this case. Hygiene is the science of health and by utilizing the steps we just went over, we can definitely keep ourselves and our patients as healthy as possible since hand hygiene is the most important part of keeping the transmission of infectious organisms in check.

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